TripAdvisor’s Greenleaders sustainable hotel programme won the Tourism for Tomorrow Award for Innovation at the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Summit in Madrid yesterday.
The TripAdvisor scheme, set up in 2013, identifies properties which have signed up to a minimum set of sustainability standards.
Collecting the award, TripAdvisor industry relations director Helena Egan hailed Greenleaders as “a fantastic initiative”, saying: “We want consumers to think a bit more sustainably.”
The Tourism for Tomorrow Community Award went to Reality Tours and Travel of India which organises tourist visits to Dharavi in Mumbai, one of Asia’s largest slums. The company recently expanded its work to New Delhi.
Ljubljana in Slovenia won the Destination Award following a 10-year transformation which has seen a large area of the city pedestrianised where once it was dominated by traffic. The city has been designated Green Capital of Europe 2016.
Petra Stusek, Ljubljana assistant director, said the transformation was based on the premise: “If locals feel good in our city, so will tourists.”
The Environmental Award was won by luxury hotel group Soneva which runs properties in the Maldives and Thailand. Soneva is sufficiently down the path to sustainability that it banned bottled water in 2008 and imposes a mandatory climate levy of 2% on rooms.
Soneva Group chairman and chief executive Sonu Shivdasani said: “The most important thing in hospitality is service and if there is a purpose beyond making a profit, staff will deliver fantastic service.
“There is a correlation between core purpose and service, between sustainability and luxury.”
Fellow hotel group Confortotel of Spain took the People Award for its ground-breaking work in employing people with disabilities.
Confortel Hoteles corporate accessibility manager Beatriz Rubio said: “More than 40% of our staff have some sort of disability. We are proud to be at the forefront of delivering accessible services.”
Chair of the awards Fiona Jeffery said: “The significance of these awards goes way beyond the awards themselves. The aim is to create better places for people to live in and for people to visit.”
The winners were selected from three finalists in each category following selection from more than 150 nominees from 60 countries.
UK trade association Abta’s Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism was a finalist in the Innovation category, along with Red Sustainable Travel of Mexico.
Fenyan Ecolodge (Jordan) and Grootbos Nature Reserve (South Africa) were finalists in the Community Category; Sozopol (Bulgaria) and Taiwan’s Northeast and Yilan Coast were finalists for the Destination award; the Laguna Lodge Eco-resort and Nature Reserve (Guatemala) and Rivers Fiji were finalists in the Environment category; and the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership (US) and Mountain Shepherds Initiative of India were finalists for the People Award.
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