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India’s Sunderbans Jungle Camp wins ‘responsible tourism’ award


March 12, 2007: Sunderbans Jungle Camp, located on India’s eastern coast, has been nominated for the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards-2007.

The award, to be presented in May 2007 in Lisbon, Portugal, has been instituted by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) to honour best practices in ‘responsible tourism’ under different categories.

Says a statement from the World Travel and Tourism Council: “Sunderbans Jungle Camp is providing a light at the end of the tunnel with its promotion of sustainable tourism as an alternative to subsistence livelihood among local people which has contributed to environmental degradation and poverty.”

The vast, marshy forests of the Sunderbans on India’s eastern coast consist of 48 islands.

Sunderbans Jungle Camp is run by Help Tourism. Asit Biswas, managing director of Help Tourism, says: “This nomination is a recognition of our mission to link heritage sites and protected areas with the livelihood of our local communities through community-based, environmentally and socially responsible tourism.”

There are other Indian resorts that have already won prestigious awards in the recent past. In November 2006, the First Choice Responsible Tourism Awards (under the best large-hotel category) was presented to The Orchid Hotel, Mumbai, for its responsible tourism model.

“Besides being a ‘zero garbage’ hotel with multiple innovations to be more energy-efficient, The Orchid Hotel also stood out for its strong outreach programme within the local community,” noted the organisers of the First Choice Responsible Tourism Awards.

The First Choice Responsible Tourism Awards are a collaboration between and its partners to promote tourism that “respects and benefits destinations and local people.”

The First Choice Responsible Tourism Awards also praised outdoor education and travel company Blue Yonder, Kerala, India, under its Best for Poverty Reduction segment.

At the 2006 World Travel Market, London, the world’s leading responsible tourism award was won by Endogenous Tourism Project from India.

Run by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at 31 rural locations, the Endogenous Tourism Project enables local communities to acquaint visitors with their art and craft, and cultural and natural heritage.

Kerala Tourism too got its share of accolades. In April 2006, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) honoured Kerala Tourism for its ‘Zero Waste Kovalam’ with a Grand Award. Kumbalangi, Kochi, Kerala, was given a Gold Award.

The Pacific Asia Travel Association remarked that “Zero Waste Kovalam aims to tackle the waste issue in the fishing village and beach destination of Kovalam by changing the way the community uses materials and resources. Zero waste is an ethical, economical and efficient way of looking at material use, reducing the production of waste, and enhancing waste management procedures.”

Responsible tourism fetches not only awards but also profits. Says Mandeep Singh Soin, founder and managing director of Ibex Expeditions: “Ultimately, it is profitable as you gain loyal customers and in some cases you save operating costs as well.”

Mandeep Singh Soin is a pioneer in ‘responsible tourism’ in India and he has won the PATA Gold Award, the Green Globe Distinction Award, the World Travel Market Environment Award, and the Ministry of Tourism (India) Award of Excellence.




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