2006 winners

Overall Joint Winners: Intrepid Travel and Ol Malo Lodge & Trust

Intrepid Travel

Intrepid stood out for its efforts and foresight in empowering the local communities it works with by establishing local businesses in its destinations, using and training local operators. The judges were particularly impressed by the way in which Intrepid facilitates interaction between tourists and the host community, providing extensive guidelines to their travellers on how to travel responsibly both prior to and during travel. Intrepid was also notable for submitting itself to a rigorous external audit, and for thoroughly thinking through the work of its foundation, The Intrepid Foundation, over and above what others have done, creating an endowment to help the local people through a disaster on the scale of the recent tsunami. Intrepid Travel have set the bar very high this year.

Ol Malo Lodge & Trust

This eco-lodge and charitable trust is situated in the deserts of Samburuland in Northern Kenya, on what was an overgrazed cattle ranch. Their key achievement to date is the establishment of The Ol Malo Eye Project which focuses upon the eradication of Trachoma - a cause of painful blindness in over 80% of adults over 30 – from the Ol Malo area. This is an infectious and preventable disease, the root of which is poverty. They value most highly of all their interaction with the community through the women and children who come to Ol Malo to produce beadwork and paintings. This a chance for Ol Malo to see if they are achieving their aim for the community: to contribute to the preservation of the Samburu people in such a way that the Samburus are independent, strong and empowered to live their lives in the way that they strongly desire and choose.

Best Tour Operator

sponsored by Haivenu Tours

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

Best Large Hotel (more than 50 rooms)

sponsored by Rezidor SAS Hospitality

Winner: The Orchid Hotel, Mumbai
For providing a responsible tourism model for other business hotels to follow. A ‘zero garbage’ hotel with multiple innovations to be more energy efficient, they also stood out for their strong outreach programme within the local community.

Highly commended:
  • Hotel de la Paix in Cambodia
  • Bedruthan Steps Hotel in Cornwall

Best Small Hotel (fewer than 50 rooms)

sponsored by Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Winner: Il N’gwesi Community Lodge, Kenya
Run and managed by the Ilaikipiak Maasai Il N’gwesi community. A successful cohabitation system of both wildlife and humans that live, ‘share’ and own the area. 40% of profits go to the 600 plus families that have a share in owning the lodge. The success of Il N’gwesi has served as a model for other communities in Northern Kenya.

Highly commended:
  • Posada Amazonas Lodge, Peru
  • Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Malaysia

Best Transport Initiative

sponsored by Eurostar

Winner: The Bittern Line Community Rail Partnership
Connecting Norwich with the north Norfolk coastal towns of Cromer and Sheringham has not only increased rail use by over 170% in 9 years (national annual average 6%), but also encourages visitors to small businesses through the TeaRail, AleTrail and CycleRail schemes. The number of car journeys through the major town of Wroxham is decreasing as a result of high profile marketing of the route.

Highly commended:
  • SolarLab Research & Design
  • First Choice Airways

Best in a Mountain Environment

sponsored by Bulgarian Dreams

Winner: Whistler Blackcomb Mountain Resorts Ltd, Canada
Whistler Blackcomb Mountain Resorts created an Environmental Management System in 1993 and it has been the guiding document to achieve the highest level of mountain stewardship in the resort group and industry. Through Operation Green UP they have spent over $1.5million on watershed restoration, and their Whistler Blackcomb Habitat Improvement Team has aided in 64 restoration projects since inception promoting conservation of biodiversity and bringing the community together.

Highly commended:
  • Ski Club of Great Britain's Respect the Mountain Campaign, UK
  • World Expeditions, UK

Best in a Marine Environment

sponsored by Bulgarian Dreams

Winner: Wakatobi Dive Resort, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia
Wakatobi's raison d’etre is to help the environment in an over-fished region where the reefs are being destroyed. Employing 150 people from the local community, they have created the Collaborative Community Based Reef Management Program whereby in exchange for direct payments to local villages, reef sanctuaries have been established. Today 12km of reef enjoys complete protection by the local community.

Highly commended:
  • Basata Ecolodge, Egypt
  • Dyer Island Cruises, Western Cape, South Africa

Best for Poverty Reduction

sponsored by Expert Africa

Winner: The Ol Malo Lodge and Trust, Kenya
The Ol Malo Lodge and Trust is helping to eradicate trachoma in the Ol Malo area in Samburuland, where it affects over 80% of adults over the age of 30. Not only have they funded operations they are also training Kenyan ophthalmologists to undertake the operation themselves.

Highly commended:
  • Guludo Beach Lodge, Mozambique.
  • The Shinta Mani Hotel and Institute of Hospitality, Cambodia.
  • The Blue Yonder, Kerala.

Best Protected Area

sponsored by Airport Parking & Hotels

Winner: Napo Wildlife Center, Ecuador
Napo Wildlife Center is located within the national park and is a joint venture with the local community. Over 90% of employees are local and the Napo Wildlife Center actively protects 82 square miles of pristine rainforest, working closely with Yasuni National Park. The Center has fostered the organisation of all of the communities that inhabit Yasuni National Park into a political unit that seeks to protect the park well into the future.

Highly commended:
  • Damaraland Camp - Wilderness Safaris, Namibia

Best for Conservation of an Endangered Species

sponsored by Peregrine Adventures

Winner: Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, South Africa
One of the Reserve’s key achievements was to reintroduce cheetah and wild dogs to the reserve in 2006. Both species were virtually extinct in this area. Tswalu also stood out for their commitment to Fair Trade Tourism, providing a combination of conservation work and community involvement all too rarely encountered.

Highly commended:
  • Wildlife Worldwide, UK

Best for Innovation / Technology

sponsored by Blacks Online

Winner: Bicycling Empowerment Network (BEN), South Africa
Based in Cape Town, BEN offers township tours with a difference. Rather than touring in an air-conditioned bus, tourists travel by bike increasing their interaction with the local Xhosa community. Most importantly, the bikes used for the tours are abandoned ones, reclaimed and reconditioned by the host community providing them with an alternative source of income.

Highly commended:
  • Fridays Place, Kerala
  • The Trelowarren Estate, Cornwall

Best Volunteering Organisation

sponsored by i-to-I

Winner: Biosphere Expeditions, UK
Biosphere Expeditions take teams of volunteers into areas that often see no or few other tourists and guarantee to spend at least two thirds of all expedition income directly in-country on the project. One of their main achievements has been preventing the cull of 50 wolves in the Carpathian mountains through the data collected by their teams of volunteers.

Highly commended:
  • Blue Ventures, UK

Best Destination

sponsored by The Lonely Planet

Winner: Aspen, Colorado
This is a destination with a long list of ‘green firsts’. Thanks to the efforts of the Aspen Skiing Company, it is leading the field in environmentally friendly skiing as well as destination stewardship, pushing for affordable housing, investing in local farmland and subsidizing local buses. A widely replicable format that the judges felt should influence European destinations.

Highly commended:
  • The Greenbox, North West Ireland
  • Travel Foundation Tobago

Person who has made the greatest contribution to responsible tourism

sponsored by responsibletravel.com

Winner: Mark Smith, The Man in Seat 61
Mark’s passion for trains through the creation of the website seat61.com has led thousands of others to discover the potential of this low-carbon emitting method of transport at a time when we are all trying to cut down on flying.

Highly commended:
  • Ian Craig of Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
  • Jake Grieves-Cook of Gamewatchers Safaris
Written by Justin Francis
Photo credits: [Page banner: Intrepid Travel]