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Responsible tourism Awards

Best tour operator for promoting responsible tourism

best tour operator for local experiencesAwarded to a tour operator with an innovative approach to educating and inspiring travellers about their responsible tourism policies and practices, issues in their destination, and what they can do to be a responsible traveller.







2012
Winner: Explore
For Explore, Responsible Tourism is a commercial decision, not just an ethical one. By operating responsibly they believe their customers will have a better experience. The judges were impressed by how they engage travellers in their Responsible Tourism approach. Their Responsible Tourism pages give information to customers about how they can make their trips more responsible both before and during their trip, as well as when they return home.

Awards winner

Read more about our 2012 winners in the official Awards newspaper.

Previous winners



Best tour operator for local experiences


2011
Winner: Sock Mob Events/Unseen Tours, UK
"The Judges were excited by the promise of this relatively young tour operator to provide a model for responsible tourism in cities. Organised by the Sock Mob volunteer network, 'Unseen Tours' take a unique view of London by organising tours run by trained homeless guides, offering an unexplored view of the big city. Incorporating history with personal perspective, the tours give voice to those usually silent in tourism; create job opportunities, and an unforgettable experience."

Highly commended:
Wild Rose Escapes, Scotland


Best tour operator for local economies



Awarded in 2010, this category was for a tour operator making the best contribution to the local economy, by employing local people, staying in local accommodations, sourcing local products, crafts and experience and encouraging their travellers to purchase locally.

2010
Winner: Desafio Adventure Company, Costa Rica
"This Costa Rican adventure tourism operator is awarded for an investment in local people that goes beyond the benefits to their tourism business. An income of £1.2 million annually from 15,000 passengers allows Desafio to support their staff in their own local entrepreneurial initiatives - helping their guides to buy photographic equipment, drivers to buy vehicles for their own business ventures, and even supporting the office manager in developing her own website. They demonstrate that the benefits of local tourism can have lasting effects on local livelihoods."


Best tour operator for cultural engagement



Awarded in 2009, this category was for a tour operator which creates positive engagement with the culture and traditions of the local community or indigenous people.

2009
Winner: Village Ways, India
“These community-owned and managed projects in the Indian Himalayas offer unique and authentic cultural experiences by facilitating mutual cultural engagement at every level. Their work has brought previously vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals from the Dalit community into focus as porters and committee members, while enabling tourists to experience and become part of rural landscapes in non-intrusive and rewarding ways and make a significant contribution to local economic development in the villages they walk through.”

Highly commended:
Estrela, Brazil
Tropic Journeys in Nature


Best tour operator



Awarded between 2004 and 2008, this category was for a tour operator that acts responsibly towards the environment and local people.

2008
Winner: Explore, UK
“A leader in implementing responsible tourism principles for many years, Explore has been recognised for training and employing local tour leaders, pushing its suppliers to deliver, investing £300k into energy-efficient projects including cooking stoves in Cambodia and most recently for appointing a full-time responsible tourism manager.”

Highly commended:
First Choice, UK
Boogie Pilgrim, Madagascar

2007
Winner: Gecko's Adventures, Australia
“Chosen for maximising the positive economic and social impacts of their tours, through use of locally owned accommodation and employment of local tour leaders who share with travellers their passion for their country’s history, heritage, culture and natural beauty.”

Highly commended:
Imaginative Traveller, UK
KE Adventure Travel, UK
Tribes Travel, UK

2006
Winner: Intrepid Travel, UK
“Chosen for their efforts to devolve ownership of local operations to the local community and for the effectiveness of their foundation, The Intrepid Foundation.”

Highly commended:
Wilderness Scotland, UK

2005
Winner: Tribes Travel, UK
“Chosen for their all round commitment to responsible tourism and in particular for their work in community based tourism.”

Highly commended:
Explore Worldwide, UK
Traidcraft Meet The People Tours, UK

2004
Winner: Exodus Travel, UK
“This was an extremely competitive category, Exodus were chosen for their systematic approach to integrating responsible tourism throughout their entire business, including their supply chain, and thereby setting a model for other businesses to follow.”

Highly Commended:
Intrepid Travel, UK
The Adventure Company, UK