BY A CORRESPONDENT
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 responsibletravel.com 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
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.