Mada ô Mada, stories of love and hate, by Dmitra

You won’t always love your fellow Honko volunteers. You’ll come from different cultural and socioeconomic contexts, you’ll have different senses of morality and values. Each person will have annoying habits which drive you crazy (you have them, too, and are driving them equally crazy). You will think they are holding you back from fully experiencing Madagascar, because you end up spending so much time with other Westerners and speaking English instead of Malagasy or French. It’s sort of like having brothers and sisters; you hate having them around, blame them for ruining everything, and never get a moment’s peace. But, sort of like with brothers and sisters, once you leave them you realize how much you needed them. When you are stuck waiting for five hours at a police station in Ihosy because your taxi brousse to Tana had illegal rocks on it, and the drunken guy who has been telling you how in love with you he is for the last two hours puts his son or your lap and walks away into the night, you will very much miss the people with whom you would have shared this experience. It is harder to laugh at crazy situations if there is no one to laugh with. It is then that you realize that if  you had had no one to speak English with, who shared with you some of the same background and who was also learning about Mada with you, you may have gone crazy. If they hadn’t been there to make you laugh at yourself, you would have taken everything too seriously. You might not have made it. Being totally immersed in another culture is a different and wonderful  experience, but it is also exhausting and frustrating and lonely. You don’t have annoying Western brothers and sisters to make you surprise spicy noodles on your last night.

In my mind, there will always be an alternate universe in which we never leave Honko, where we sit around and eat beans and play rummy and laugh until our stomachs hurt. None of us would have been friends outside of Honko, and I don’t know if we’ll stay friends after, but I am grateful for my silly, stupid, hilarious Honko family. Here are a few travel notes: The taxi brousse to Tana is a much cheaper option than the flight. Much cheaper. And it is truly a great way to see the beauty of Madagascar, and you’ll understand why Lalas is going on and on about how rich and lush the East Coast is. You’ll probably appreciate it even more than I did, since I lost my glasses to a crab in my last week. But it is very, very long and you can really get delayed. It would probably be better to make stops in Isalo and/or Ranomafana to break up the trip. If you are a woman, be prepared to defend yourself a bit. The drunk guy I mentioned before (who eventually did come back for his kid) would wait for me to fall asleep and then caress my leg and I had to keep waking him up and pushing him away. I began to reconsider my commitment to nonviolence. There was also a strong smell of fish, feet, beer and cigarettes which made my backpack so smelly that the woman in the dorm at Madagascar Underground asked me to put it outside. That being said, go to Madagascar Underground when you do get to Tana. It will be a welcome refreshment after the brousse. Whatever you choose, it will always be an adventure in Madagascar!

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Water experiences, by Anne

Back home, water is nothing I normally think much about. For sure, since I was a child, I was taught to save water and therefore close the tab while brushing teeth, not shower for ages and use the flush stop button at the loo. You do those things without really thinking about it. Water is the new beauty drink in the west, but here in Madagascar you really feel its importance.

Naturally, there is no tap water in Honko. If you do not have a really robust stomach, tap water is not suitable for drinking anyway – only if you apply chorine tabs. In Honko, we get our drinking water from a well in Ambondrolava. The employees take turns in delivering it over the 1km distance from the village to our Centre each day. Like that, we use it to rinse fruit, or to cook tea and coffee. To actually drink it, it has to be filtered through multiple substrates in one of our 3 water filters. If we have many people around, we quickly run out of drinking water. Water sharing is something one has to learnotherwiseothers stay thirsty. Normally though, there is enough for everybody. The water filters have to be cleaned every once in a while, which might lead to water shortages.

Even though we have a well closer to the centre, ground water is not used for drinking because of the shorter distance to the incoming salty tidal water. However, it can be used to do the washing up, or to have a nice bucket shower after being all sweaty and dusty from a trip to Tuléar, or muddy from monitoring in the mangroves.

Sometimes we go swimming in the great channel, which is really salty. The water is always brownish, as it is full of washed off nutrients from the mangrove forest. High tide is the best, as the channel is actually deep enough to have a proper swim and the fresh ocean water is still cool. After high tide, it is warmer than a hot bath back home, as the water literally boils in the sun for hours. Depending on what time you go, the current will either drive you towards the mangroves or the Channel of Mozambique. If you are a good swimmer, you might swim couple of metres against the current. If you just want to relax, you can float along. Mangrove monitoring is usually done at low tide, so there might be the chance to have a swim afterwards.

Honko has two kayaks and one pirogue for tourists to experience the mangroves from the channels. If you find somebody to carry the kayaks from the centre to the channel (dragging damages the boats), you could have a splendid time on the water. You could paddle through some smaller channels and watch crabs munching away mangrove leaves on the trees. Highest tide (spring tide) is at new moon and full moon. The other option is to paddle towards the Channel of Mozambique (6km). Dmitra and I made it with the current in about one hour to the ocean and had a swim near Tsongoritello. The way back was a real hassle, and took us nearly 3.5 hours, as we had to partly drag the boat, partly paddle against the current. Anyway, it was a great experience, to see the mangroves from a new perspective and feel the strength of the tides. Furthermore, I got a nice tan.

The mangroves do not only protect the shoreline, but also mitigate the sedimentation of the coral reefs in front of the coast. To really grasp the importance of the forest and see the beauty of the Malagasy corals, you definitely have to go snorkelling or scuba diving. You can catch a taxi-broussetoMangily where a boat and equipment can be rented at Mangily Scuba Diving. Honko is close friends with the American owner and the tariffs are much lower than in other tourist countries. Even though the coral reef is quite degraded due to unsustainable fishing practises, it is really worth it. I saw many colourful coral fish – like in Finding Nemo, – bright sea slugs, huge mussels and blue corals.

As you see, you will experience water in multiple ways, and let it be only the excitement, when the FiherenanaRiver is refilled with water or the rolling thunder in the distance during the rainy season.

Stay hydrated and get wet!

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Spicy Noodle Day, by Dmitra

Spicy Noodle Day. Aaaah, Spicy Noodle Day. I wake up on Sundays with a smile on my face. Today everything will be perfect. Nothing can go wrong on Spicy Noodle Day. During the week, a wonderful young woman named Zarina cooks for us. We enjoy sweet potato soup, bok bok, mokhari, rice and beans, fish and rice, and veggie stew during the week. On the weekends, unless we are in Tulear, we cook for ourselves. That means pasta. And then, on Sunday nights, we have spicy noodles! They are the Malagasy version of Top Ramen, only better. It comes with two different spices, three different sauces, and a packet of crispy fried onions. We add some wonderful cooked veggies and the feast begins. You get to mix and match ingredients as you wish. It feels like everyone is eating a slightly different meal, and we are all in a state of pure bliss. What joy! Spicy noodle day is perfection.

Seriously, though, food here is pretty great. But if you are used to eating several small meals a day, be prepared for a bit of an adjustment period. We eat three times a day, and you can usually have some fruit in between. For the first couple of weeks, I was a bit…well…’starving’. After that, however, my stomach adjusted and I felt quite content. And if you stay away from Honko for a day or two, you’ll start to miss the beans and rice. They’re seriously delicious. But if you go to Tulear or Mangily, be prepared for the temptation to indulge yourself and spend more money than you planned. There’s a lot of fish, shrimp, veggies, fries, and salad out there. And then you’ll want to wash it down with the great coffee at Rose d’Or, lovely cold Cristal (sparklingwater), or maybe a Fresh (alcoholic lemonade). Then there are the desserts. Pastries, crepes, gelato, oh my! Soooo delicious. It’s good I got sick a couple times while I was here so I could balance out the feasting with some fasting.

On a different, and more serious, note, my time here is almost through. I leave in a week.I have learned a great deal in a very short time. I am so grateful to Honko and the people of Belalanda Commune for allowing me to live and do a bit of work in such an amazing and beautiful place. I leave behind some ongoing projects. I have a great deal of hope for them, and am sad that I cannot stay to see them through. The project I am most proud of and grateful to Honko for implementing is the Junior Guides Program. We currently have 11 students attending a training led by Philemon every Saturday. While there are still quite a few bumps in the road to iron out, I am so excited to find out what happens. I plan to stay connected and help as much as I canfrom home. And Honko has been so gracious and eager through this whole process, I trust that the program will continue to get better and better. When you get here, please lend a hand. It takes everyone to make things work here at Honko. You are important. Honko needs you. Good luck, future volunteers. Come with no expectations, an open heart and mind, and a readiness to work. You will not be disappointed.

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Wildlife at your doorstep, by Anne

When I arranged my university-related trip to Honko, I spent a lot of time organising all the transport, vaccinations and travel essentials in advance. After 5 flights and 3 days of travel – all the way from Berlin – I finally made it to the reserve. I was more than delighted to find 3 other volunteers, 3 dogs, the other Honko employees and all the animals crawling on the roof and the walls.

You never feel alone and instantly we all became friends. Even me, the wall frog and the geckos. You start to appreciate the creepy crawlies, as they help get rid of the mosquitos or are just enjoyable to watch. We volunteers share a wooden hut with two bunkbeds and a big land-crab under our doorstep. In the morning, I enjoy the first bits of sun coming through the planks and the bird noises from the top of the reed roof. In the night, a small breeze chills the air and the sound of the mosquitos is not as bad, lying under a mosquito-net.

On the way to the bathroom, some land crabs vanish into their holes and the dogs happily greet the early-birds passing by. In the shower, wood-boring bees buzz around my head. No worries; they always look a bit drunk and do not attack anyone.

During the day, Sally the cat has a nap in the Centre and occasionally meows away some sun birds hanging round in front of the windows. Ants welcome the litchi-season just as we do and crawl on their never-ending food quest into our fruit bowl. Sitting in the Centre, while working and chatting, we always hear some birds singing. During dinner time, occasionally a cockroach sneaks in or a spider walks by.

Walking into the mangroves, mud-skippers splash away on both sides of the woody path. One of the dogs, Mum, is always very happy to chase them. If you sit down and keep quiet, fiddler crabs and mud-crabs come out of their holes and you see them fighting and munching away biomass from the mangroves. You hear their weird clicking-noises, as they dig holes and mix the soil. Early in the morning, spider webs hang over the wooden path, hoping for some mosquitos.

If you are lucky, you see colourful birds like the red Foudi and the green sun bird sitting in the upper branches of the mangroves. Whimbrels and other birds walk through the mud, digging with their long beaks. Kites and other predator birds circle close to the abandoned salt plains, searching for some small rodents.

Shepherds from the local villages walk their goats and their zebus close by, freaking out our dogs if they cross our land. In the local village, Ambondrolava, swines, hens and ducks stroll around without any fence keeping them in one place.

Anywhere you walk, always animals are around. I have a splendid time here, while back home in good old Germany grey rainy winter arrives, keeping every last human being inside their flat. In the German capital, I never meet as many animals already before breakfast and it will certainly be something I miss going back in February!

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Reading the Sky, by Dmitra

I am from a desertlike area and, when I first arrived at Honko, I thought the sky was not different. It’s bigger, since there are no mountains, tall trees, or big buildings, so you feel as if you are standing in a big snoglobe. But I thought the stars were the same. I was wrong.

I have watched two lightning storms until late at night (late here means 10 or 11 at night). If you get a chance, stay up and watch. The other night, I walked with the dogs over the dunes and sat to watch the lightning and stars. In the distance, I heard men and women singing in the dark. There are always disembodied voices singing here, whether it is invisible women in the vondro or voices breaking like thunder through the black.

Strange and wonderful things happen to the stars during lightning torms. First, the stars do not sit flat in the night sky. Instead, they dangle in front of the black like 3D projections. They seem to be suspended between earth and sky. They twinkle on and off or change color with the changes in air and lighting. If you stare long enough, you seem to see tiny lines of light snaking frantically between them like electricity. Every few minute there will be a shooting star. On this night, I even saw a meteor so close I could see the flames. I have to rub my eyes and squint often to make sure I am not seeing things.

And then there are the UFO’s. This is not a joke. I will tell you if you ask. Otherwise, I will leave you blissfully ignorant. But don’t be surprised if you see something you can’t quite explain moving through the sky. Madagascar is special, indeed.

A few tips for incoming volunteers:
– Ride on the outside of a taxibrousse at least once; it’s worth the risk.
– Kayak to the sea.
– Bring something for traveller’s diarrhea. Cipro works pretty well.
– Sawyer’s Fisherman’s Formula Picardin Mosquito Repellant Lotion is the best! It’s not a spray, which is nice, it doesn’t make you greasy, and it’s very effective!
– Bring something to help you break the ice with the kids. I learned to make things out of string, like a mosquito, cat whiskers, Jacob’s Ladder, etc. It’s a great way to interact without language, and the parents will warm up to you if you play with their kids!
– Read over what previous volunteers have done, and try to continue their work. Also, record anything you have done so the next volunteers can continue your work. If something you try doesn’t work right away, don’t despair! Reevaluate and try again.

Remember, everything is more difficult and more complicated when you try it in a new country.

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Support Honko this year through a purchase of our new 13-month 2016 calendar!

         HONKO / calendar 2016        

     

       

                     HONKO / calendar 2016                  

     

     

       

         By Honko Mangrove                    

       

         28 pages, published 12/2/2015        

     

     

       Support Honko this year through a purchase of our new 13-month 2016 calendar!Honko Mangrove Conservation & Education is a Belgian non-profit that works with impoverished coastal communities in southwest Madagascar to promote sustainable mangrove management and alleviate poverty. Honko’s 2016 calendar showcases the unique flora and fauna of the mangrove ecosystem, as well as snapshots into the daily life of the villagers. Features…      

     

                 Find out more on MagCloud              

Vente calendrier 2016 – En        Vente calendrier 2016 – Fr

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Honko takes the wildlife conservation gold at World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015

Media release:  4th November 2015

Honko Mangrove Conservation and Education has been named the Gold winner of the Best for Wildlife Conservation category at the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015 at World Travel Market in London.

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The small community-based ecotourism and mangrove conservation project in Madagascar was announced the Gold winner at a special ceremony today at World Travel Market in London, part of World Responsible Tourism Day.

The Best for Wildlife Conservation, sponsored by Florida Keys and Key West Tourist Development Council, awards operators and conservation organisation committed to conserving habitats. The judges were looking for integration of holiday experiences with progressive and sustainable programmes in wildlife and habitat conservation, ideas which can be adapted and developed, and the measures of success by providers.

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Professor Harold Goodwin, Chair of the judging panel comments, Based in the southwest of Madagascar, Honko is working with coastal communities to improve livelihoods by restoring and protecting the mangrove environments on which they are dependent. Honko empowers these communities to take charge of their mangrove resources and use them to secure sustainable and resilient livelihoods. The success of Honko as an ecotourism and training organisation is now being used as a model in other mangrove wetland regions. It is a challenge to make mangroves attractive to tourists and although the ecotourism initiative is small and only part of its strategy, visitor numbers grew 60% between 2013 and 2014. The judges wanted to recognise that Honko has achieved sustainability and has demonstrated what a small scale initiative can achieve for impoverished local communities and their environment.”

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Nina Hamilton from Honko Mangrove Conservation and Education commented on their win, “This is a very exciting win for Honko, Madagascar, and mangrove conservation worldwide. Winning a World Responsible Tourism Award is a perfect example of how small-scale, community-based initiatives can have an impact at a global scale, and we hope this award will help us to inspire similar projects that bring together impactful conservation and sustainable tourism.”

Welcoming over 500 people to the event in London, Justin Francis, Managing director of Awards organisers Responsible Travel explained how the Awards were founded to change the face of the tourist industry. “The aim of the Awards is to inspire the tourists and the tourism industry by what is possible to achieve through responsible tourism” says Francis. “In our 12th year we have added one more inspiring winner and more remarkable stories which will shape how the industry and tourists think about the future of tourism”.
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Category sponsors, the Florida Keys and Key West Tourist Development Council provided an insight into why they are backing this Award. “Environmental protection and resource sustainability have been priorities in the Florida Keys & Key West for many years,” said Stacey Mitchell, sales director for the Keys tourism council. “In fact, this month we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

“The Sanctuary protects more than 6,000 species of marine life, while ensuring access so our visitors can responsibly experience unique marine habitats spread over more than 4,600 square kilometers of waters that surround the Keys island chain.” Mitchell said.

Simon Press, Awards Judge and Senior Exhibition Director for World Travel Market London says, “The standard of entries to this year’s World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM London have been of a phenomenally high standard. Loola Adventure is a truly inspiring example of responsible tourism at its finest, demonstrating that all stakeholder can benefit from well-planned and well-run tourism projects.”

Read below for the full list of this year’s finalists, or log on to www.worldresponsibletourismawards.com to read their stories, download images, or watch videos from the Overall Winners. A full free copy of ‘Progress in Responsible Tourism’, which publishes the full reasons behind the judges’ decisions, will be available for download from this site after the ceremony on Wednesday 4th November 2015.

An overview of the rigorous judging process, and criteria by which the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015 have been judged can be found at: http://www.responsibletravel.com/awards/about/judging-process.htm

A photo library of winner’s images is accessible here: http://www.responsibletravel.com/awards/media/

Additional photos of the ceremony can be found at WTM London’s Picture Library after 14:00 today at: http://wtm.mediafiler.net/.

The full list of 2015 winners is below:

Overall Winner:

LooLa Adventure Resort, Bintan, Indonesia

Contact: Marc Van Loo info@loola.net 

Judges Reasons for winning:  “The judges look for examples which are surprising and inspiring. LooLa is based on the principle that a good business can and should benefit all other stakeholders too: local community, staff, and clients. The judges singled them out because of their innovative approach, based on the Dutch “polder principle” – that all stakeholders should benefit – and because they have proved that it works. LooLa sells a package in Singapore that includes accommodation, activities and food, but the staff operate their own shop and sell drinks, extra menus, massage, wake-boarding and so on. Each department runs its own budgets, and the staff keep surpluses as long as guests are satisfied. These initiatives result in a 20 – 50 % increase in local staff incomes and guests are encouraged to pay a bit extra to participate in community projects such as the building beds, roads, and waste water processing systems. The judges applaud LooLa’s innovative approaches to creating shared value with the local community and better guest experiences.”

 

  1. Best Animal Welfare Initiative supported by the Born Free Foundation

Gold Winners: Campaign Against Canned Hunting & Hetta Huskies

Contacts: Chris Mercer info@cannedlion.org  @cannedlion

Anna McCormick info@hettahuskies.com @hettahuskies

Judges reasons for winning: The Campaign Against Canned Hunting (www.cannedlion.org) has been engaging with the tourism industry and is applauded for the considerable success it has had in raising awareness of the commercial exploitation of lions, which are petted as cubs, used as photo props in ‘walking with lions’ experiences then later shot just out of their cages by trophy hunters. The Campaign Against Canned Hunting has found that “once travel agents, tour operators and volunteering agencies know the truth, they quickly discourage clients from visiting such facilities”. Hetta Huskies (www.hettahuskies.com) based in Finland carry some 4,000 clients per year at their husky sled dog farm. The judges recognised both the high standards of sled dog welfare practised in the operation and that, having established a viable business with higher standards, they are now able to campaign for change from within the industry.

Silver Winners: Lotus Travel & the Donkey Sanctuary

Contacts: Linda Svensson linda@lotustravel.se

Suzie Cretney suzi.cretney@thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk @donkeysanctuary

 

  1. Best for Beach Tourism sponsored by Visit Jersey

Gold Winners: LooLa Adventure Resort and Soneva Fushi

Contacts: Marc Van Loo info@loola.net

Arnfinn Oines arnfinn@soneva.com @SonevaFushi @TheSonevaGroup

Judges reasons for winning: Two very contrasting winners. A luxury resort with significant success in reducing its carbon footprint, the judges recognise Soneva Fushi in the Maldives for demonstrating what can be achieved, at scale, in improving environmental performance and benefitting local people. By contrast LooLa, an adventure resort in Bintan catering for family and educational groups impressed the judges with its unique business which has resulted in zero staff turnover and local incomes 20-50% higher than they otherwise could be. Rainwater collection systems, green aircon and waste water gardens are all also highly replicable.

Silver Winners: andBeyond and Turtle Bay Beach Club

Contacts: Valeri Mouton valeri.mouton@andbeyond.com  @andBeyondSafari

Ken Ombok kenombok@turtlebay.co.ke @TurtleBayWatamu

 

  1. Best Cultural Heritage Attraction sponsored by Wightlink

Gold Winner: Loop Head Peninsula, Ireland

Contact: Cillian Murphy cillian@loophead.ie  @LoopHeadTourism

Judges reasons for winning: On Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, Loop Head Peninsula shares local people’s heritage with tourists for the benefit of both, with sites of interest identified through a heritage audit undertaken by local people. The judges were impressed by the bottom up approach using a tourism initiative to encourage a community to discover, own and protect its heritage.

Silver winners: Cnoc Suain and Bushmans Kloof

Contacts: Charlie Troy info@cnocsuain.com  @CnocSuain

Roxanne Sonnenberg roxanne@fivestarpr.co.za  @BushmansKloof

 

  1. Best Destination for Responsible Tourism sponsored by Visit Norway

Gold Winner: Gansbaai, South Africa

Contact: Brenda du Toit Brenda1dutoit@gmail.com  @GansbaaiTourism

Judges reasons for winning: Two hours from Cape Town in the Overberg, Gansbaai is home to a cluster of responsible tourism businesses  – and these businesses have come together, cooperating with each other and the local authority to make Gansbaai a better place to live for local people. The judges were impressed by how much more the businesses, which include Grootbos and Dyer Island (both previous winners of our Responsible Tourism Awards) have been able to achieve by working together and with local government.

Silver winners: Aruba and Cyprus

Contacts: Jo Walding  j.walding@aruba.com  @ArubaTourismUK

Lillian Panayi  lillianctolon@btconnect.com  @VisitCyprus

 

  1. Best Accommodation for Disability Access sponsored by Enable Holidays

Gold Winners: Endeavour Safaris and Scandic Hotels

Contacts: Silvia Hill  info@endeavour-safaris.com  @EndeavourSafari

Magnus Berglund magnus.berglund@scandichotels.com @ScandicGlobal

Judges reasons for winning: Running mobile tented safari camps in southern Africa, Endeavour Safaris demonstrate that it is possible to enable people with a wide variety of disabilities to enjoy the same safari experience as their families and friends. With specially-adapted mobile camps, Endeavour Safaris prove that tourism accommodations, even in the wildest of environments, can be enjoyed by nearly all tourists, no matter what their needs. Scandic Hotels are applauded for their top-down, all-encompassing approach to inclusivity, integrating accessibility into all parts of their hotel business from floor to board level. Like Endeavour, they address a wide range of disabilities and particularly impressed the judges with their leadership – developing an e-learning course and making this freely available to their peers across the tourism industry.

Silver Winner: RuralSuite Hotel Apartamentos****

Contact: Marius Gutiérrez info@ruralsuite.com @ruralsuite

 

  1. Best for Engaging People & Culture sponsored by Audley Travel

Gold Winner: Urban Adventures

Contact: Lindsay Young  Lindsay@urbanadventures.com @UrbanAdventures

Judges reasons for winning: Part of Intrepid and established in 2009 Urban Adventures offers an alternative to the standard city tour offering the opportunity to visit local neighbourhoods with a passionate, knowledgeable, enthusiastic local guide or friend, not only supporting local entrepreneurs, but empowering them too. The judges were pleased to see that local partners, within the framework of a Responsible Travel Code of Conduct, are able to own and manage their own businesses and in return for commission on tours sold, Urban Adventures, provide these local partners with the technology, marketing, and sales support to promote and sell their tours. All in all, leading to different and arguably better experiences for tourists and locals alike.

Silver Winners: Felin Talgarth Mill, Connemara Wild Escapes

Contact: Liz Rose lizrose@talgarthmill.com

Cathy Wolfe cathy@connemarawildescapes.ie @Connemarawild

 

  1. Best Hotel for Local Sourcing sponsored by Colorado Tourism Office

Gold Winner: Atlas Kasbah Ecolodge

Contact: Hassan Aboutayeb contact@atlaskasbah.com   @AtlasKasbah

Judges reasons for winning: Based in Morocco’s Argan Forest near Agadir, the judges were impressed by Atlas Kasbah Ecolodge’s ability to report in detail on its impact on the local economy, with 81% of money spent within a 50km radius, and staff employed from nearby Berber communities. By offering guests local experiences such as cooking and craft classes, and starting up an organic food basket scheme with deliveries in Agadir and neighbouring villages, Atlas Kasbah Ecolodge has successfully developed wide a range of economic activities with the local Berber communities to their mutual advantage.

Silver winners: Shangri La’s Villingili Resort & Spa and Matava, Fiji

Contact: Yaw Ling Wong yawling.wong@shangri-la.com @SLMaldives

Adrian Watt adrian@matava.com @MatavaFiji

 

  1. Best Innovation for Carbon Reduction sponsored by Visit Gozo

Gold Winner: TUI UK & Ireland

Contact: Rosie Howell rosie.howell@tuitravel.com @TUIGroup

Judges reasons for winning: Often tour operators are rightly criticised for pushing responsibility for achieving sustainability targets down their supply chain, but TUI have proven to be an exception. Last year we awarded their airline, Thomson Airways, for delivering real carbon reduction targets, and this year the judges recognise TUI UK & Ireland for their holistic approach to reducing carbon consumption in their shops and offices. By working with staff to change behaviour and with investment in new technology TUI UK and Ireland have achieved a 40% reduction in carbon emissions in their offices between 2010 and 2014.  The judges believe this is a highly replicable approach and a good example of a large tour operator taking responsibility to reduce carbon emissions rather than leaving it to others.

Silver Winners: Airport Authority Hong Kong and North Sailing

Contacts: Ringo W. K. Yu ringo.yu@hkairport.com @hkairport

Birna Lind Bjornsdottir birna@northsailing.is @northsailing

 

  1. Best for Poverty Reduction sponsored by the Tobago House of Assembly

Winner: Agri Tourism Development Company Pvt Ltd

Contact: Pandurang Taware pandurang@agritourism.in 

Judges reasons for winning: Recognising that farm incomes in India have become stagnant in recent years, the Agri Tourism Development Company has worked with 750 farmers in 218 locations across the state of Maharashtra to empower them to diversify into tourism, resulting in a 33% increase in income over and above previous levels. These farmers are now offering packages which give families in India’s urban areas  the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of activities from animal feeding and farm walks to festivals, folk dancing and music. The judges were impressed by the scale of the programme and the resulting number of small farmers developing supplementary incomes to raise themselves out of poverty.

Silver winners: Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, OneSeed Expeditions and Uakari Floating Lodge

Contact: Karin Blumer karin@grootbosfoundation.org @Grootbos

Chris Baker chris@oneseedexpeditions.com @oneseedex

Luciana Vieira Cobra luciana@mamiraua.org.br

 

  1. Best Responsible Tourism Blog sponsored by Fair Trade Tourism

Winner: Uncornered Market

Contact: Daniel Noll dan@uncorneredmarket.com @umarket

Judges reasons for winning: True to their motto ‘driven by curiosity, guided by respect’ Uncornered Market is a blog with a goal to create a movement of respectful travellers. People, not just place are always at the centre of its content, dispelling fears of the unknown and assuring readers that travel can be a force for good. The judges were pleased to see them unafraid to tackle gritty topics in their writing – for example around volunteering or giving gifts to begging children.  The blog has inspired other bloggers to extend their travel horizons with its thoughtful, engaging writing and has impressed the judging panel by reaching over 1.2 million people monthly via the blog and social media platforms combined.

Silver winner: Travel for Wildlife

Contact: Cristina Garcia cristinagarcia.cat@gmail.com  @Travel4Wildlife

  1. Best Sea or River Cruise

Gold winner: Ullswater Steamers

Contact: Rachel Bell Rachel@lakedistrictstates.co.uk @UllswaterSteam

Since 2011 Ullswater Steamers have begun to monitor their performance in reducing water and carbon emissions, and work with other local public transport providers, and the Lake District national park, to encourage people out of cars. They excel at work in the local community and have become an important local employer. Ullswater Steamers were highly commended in these Awards in 2008 and 2011, and with their Gold win today the judges recognise how much progress it is possible to make by adopting a strategy of continuous improvement in sustainability and keeping at it  – and the judges feel they provide a real example which other cruise operators need to follow.

Contact: Rachel Bell rachel@lakedistrictestates.co.uk @UllswaterSteam

 

  1. Best for Wildlife Conservation sponsored by the Florida Keys & Key West Tourist Development Council

Gold winner: Honko Mangrove Conservation & Education

Contact: Lara Danhaive lara@honko.org @HonkoMangrove

Based in the southwest of Madagascar, Honko is working with coastal communities to improve livelihoods by restoring and protecting the mangrove environments on which they are dependent. Honko empowers these communities to take charge of their mangrove resources and use them to secure sustainable and resilient livelihoods. The success of Honko as an ecotourism and training organisation is now being used as a model in other mangrove wetland regions, it is a challenge to make mangroves attractive to tourists.  Although the ecotourism initiative is small and only part of its strategy, visitor numbers grew 60% between 2013 and 2014. The judges wanted to recognise that Honko has achieved sustainability and has demonstrated what a small scale initiative can achieve for impoverished local communities and their environment.

Silver winners: Coral Cay Conservation, North Island Seychelles and Tiger Trails Jungle Lodge

Contacts: Tristan Brown tb@coralcay.org @CoralCay

Nick Galpine nick@wilderness-collection.com @NorthIsland_sc

Aditya Dhanwatay  info@tigertrails.in  @TigerTrails1

 

People’s Choice in Responsible Tourism in association with National Geographic Traveller (UK) Magazine, sponsored by the Catalan Tourist Board.

Winner: World Animal Protection

Contact: Pippa Rodger PippaRodger@worldanimalprotection.org  @MovetheWorldUK

Organiser’s comments: Our Awards seek to inspire tourists and the tourism industry alike. The nine previous Awards winners contending the People’s Choice have been recognised by our judging panel as leaders in responsible tourism, but this Award reveals which the travelling public find the most inspirational.  Last year the judges were impressed with the success of World Animal Protection’s ongoing Compassionate Travel campaign, reaching out to international tourism bodies, tour operators and travellers to bring an end to the unnecessary use of wild animals in tourism. With this Award, World Animal Protection show they have won over the people who can really create change, and that we can all be compassionate in travel.

Other Nominees: Adventure Alternative, Campo & Parque Dos Sonhos, Chole Mjini, Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours, Hotel Verde, Kutch Adventures India, Thomson Airways, V&A Waterfront

 

 

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-ENDS-

Notes to editors

About the World Responsible Tourism Awards

For more information on the World Responsible Tourism Awards visit www.worldresponsibletourismawards.com

Now in their 12th year, the World Responsible Tourism Awards were founded by Responsible Travel in 2004 to celebrate the most inspiring stories in responsible tourism.

The Awards are organised by Responsible Travel and ICRT (International Centre for Responsible Tourism). The Awards ceremony is hosted by World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, during World Responsible Tourism Day, the world’s largest event for responsible tourism which this year takes place on Wednesday 4th November.

This year, the Awards feature 13 categories covering a variety of topics, which reflect the hottest issues currently debated in the world or responsible and sustainable tourism. For the first year tourism businesses and organisations around the world can submit themselves for consideration. The only publically voted Award is the People’s Choice Award. Public voting for the People’s Choice will be open early June.

Follow Awards news and updates on Twitter: @RTAwards or #WRTA2015 and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/responsibletourismawards where you can also find stories from our previous international winners.

 

 

About Responsible Travel:

Responsible Travel is the founder and organiser of the World Responsible Tourism Awards and the world’s leading market place for small and tailor-made tour operators, all screened for their commitment to responsible tourism.

Responsible Travel connects these operators with people looking for real & authentic holidays.  Starting with just 2 tour operators in 2001 we’ve become the leading place to find tours from over 400 small & specialist tour companies in 197 countries.  As tourism grows globally the opportunity for authentic experiences diminishes, and the impacts of tourism on places & local people (not always positive) grows.   We’ve found the secret to authentic travel is treating local people & places responsibly.

In addition Responsible Travel:

– campaigns for positive change in the travel and tourism industry.

– is publishing an expanding collection of open, honest travel guides

CEO Justin Francis has been included in Courvoisiers The Future 500, Thames and Hudsons 60 Innovators Shaping Our Creative Future and taken his place on the Advisory Board of The International Centre for Responsible Tourism.

The company is based in Brighton’s North Laine district, England.

 

About World Travel Market London

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend four-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.

Almost 51,500 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL – London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM.

WTM London, now in its 36th year, is the event where the travel industry conducts and concludes its deals. WTM 2014 will generate around £2.5 billion of travel industry contracts.

WTM London is part of Reed Travel Exhibition’s World Travel Market events, which also includes Arabian Travel Market, World Travel Market Latin America and World Travel Market Africa.  http://www.wtmworld.com

 

World Travel Market Events

World Travel Market is comprised of the leading leisure travel events in the world; World Travel Market London, WTM Latin America in Sao Paulo, WTM Africa in Cape Town and Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.

New events for 2016 are WTM connect Asia and WTM connect China, which join WTM connect Ski and International Golf Travel Market. These unique one-to-one events are targeted at leisure and niche travel markets, allowing exhibitors to exclusively meet with elite hosted buyers.

The World Travel Market events are attended by the global travel and tourism industry’s senior executives to conduct business deals and discover the latest research, insight and opinion.

In 2014, the World Travel Market events facilitated around $7 billion in industry deals from negotiations between the more than 15,000 buyers, 9,500 exhibitors (1,500 main stand holders and 8,000 stand sharers) in attendance of its four events.

WTM is owned by the world’s leading events organiser Reed Exhibitions.

 

About Reed Exhibitions

Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events organiser, with over 500 events in 43 countries. In 2014 Reed brought together over seven million event participants from around the world generating billions of dollars in business. Today Reed events are held throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa and organised by 41 fully staffed offices. Reed Exhibitions serves 43 industry sectors with trade and consumer events. It is part of the RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.

 

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