The 15 finalists of the inaugural National Geographic World Legacy Awards were unveiled on stage at ITB Asia in Singapore.
The World Legacy Awards, a partnership between National Geographic Society and ITB Berlin, showcase the leading travel and tourism companies, organizations and destinations — ranging from historic monuments to ecolodges and from small islands to entire countries — that are driving the sustainable tourism transformation of the travel industry based on National Geographic’s work of inspiring people to care about the planet.
More than 150 World Legacy Awards entries were received, representing 56 countries and six continents. Finalists in five award categories were selected by an international team of 18 judges who are experts in sustainable travel and who are now conducting on-site inspections of the finalists. For details on the judges, go to http://press.nationalgeographic.com/2014/10/23/national-geographic-announces-world-legacy-awards-judges/.
The National Geographic World Legacy Awards finalists are:
Earth Changers — Recognizing cutting-edge leadership in environmentally friendly business practices and green technology, from renewable energy and water conservation to zero-waste systems and carbon-emission reduction.
- The Brando, Tahiti — Pacific Beachcomber Resorts worked hand in hand with the family of Marlon Brando to bring to life the late actor and conservationist’s dream to create a luxury eco-resort that also serves as a global scientific marine research center and a model for innovative green technologies while fostering the preservation of Polynesian cultural and natural heritage for future generations.
- Orange County Resorts, India — With two hotels in southern India’s high biodiversity zones, Orange County educates travelers, local communities and government municipalities on sustainable development practices, including elimination of plastics, recycling of glass and metals, water conservation and alternative energy.
- Nikoi Island, Indonesia — A two-hour boat ride from Singapore, Nikoi operates on less than one quarter of the energy consumption considered “excellent” by the sustainable standards of the International Tourism Partnership for hotels operating in the tropics. It also maximizes sustainable design for natural ventilation and incorporates community education on environmentally friendly practices.
Sense of Place — Recognizing excellence in enhancing sense of place and authenticity, including support for the protection of historical monuments, archaeological sites, cultural events, indigenous heritage and artistic traditions.
- Fogo Island Inn, Canada — Designed to celebrate the rural heritage of this remote island in Newfoundland, Fogo Island Inn works closely with local communities to celebrate cultural heritage, ranging from participating in traditional village sing-a-longs to learning about handcrafted boat building. During their stay, guests team up with “community hosts” who take them around the island to experience the local way of life.
- Cavallo Point Lodge, United States — By transforming Fort Baker from an old military barracks into a thriving sustainable tourism lodge, the owners of Cavallo Point also restored an important national park monument, including preserving 17 major historic buildings in their original design as a focal point of San Francisco’s heritage located next to the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Gwaii Haanas National Reserve, Canada — This partnership between the indigenous Haida people of British Columbia and Parks Canada includes collaborating to inventory 500 ancient indigenous settlement and sacred sites. The project also includes working with Haida elders to record oral histories and protect other cultural traditions that provide an enriching and authentic travel experience for visitors.
Conserving the Natural World — Recognizing outstanding support for the preservation of nature, restoring natural habitat and protecting rare and endangered species, whether on land or in the oceans.
- Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, Chile — Situated in the Andean Patagonian rain forest, Huilo Huilo is a private-sector conservation and community development project that has protected more than 247,100 acres of high-biodiversity habitat once threatened by the timber industry and home to a number of rare and endangered species, including the Andean huemul deer.
- andBeyond, East and Southern Africa — An experiential travel company dedicated to conservation, andBeyond successfully translocated six rhinos from its Phinda Private Game Reserve into the Okavango Delta in 2013 as part of its “Rhinos Without Borders” initiative in partnership with other tourism stakeholders to help save this iconic species on the brink of extinction.
- Conservation Ecology Centre, Australia — Based in Cape Otway and working in partnership with the Great Ocean Ecolodge, the Centre is at the forefront of protecting threatened endemic species native to Australia — including the koala and the rare tiger quoll — through habitat restoration and research.
Engaging Communities — Recognizing direct and tangible economic and social benefits that improve local livelihoods, including training and capacity building, fair wages and benefits, community development, health care and education.
- Feynan Ecolodge, Jordan — All staff at Feynan, located in the Dana Biosphere Reserve, are from rural Bedouin communities who have been trained in hospitality management. In addition, 80 percent of the lodge supplies come from nearby communities to advance local economic benefits. The Feynan guest experience provides a unique opportunity to learn about authentic Bedouin culture.
- Mukul Resort, Nicaragua — Working closely with rural villagers along Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast, Mukul provides ongoing education, training and capacity building to improve local livelihoods through sustainable tourism. In addition to providing training and employment for nearly 500 local residents, Mukul is also partnering with the nonprofit organization Nica Agua to provide ceramic clean drinking water filters to local households.
- Tropic Journeys in Nature, Ecuador — A pioneer in community-based tourism in Ecuador, Tropic Journeys started working 20 years ago in the Ecuadorean Amazon with the indigenous Huaorani people. Today, the Huaorani Ecolodge is run by 80 Huaorani employees who set their own wages and manage the day-to-day business on their own, sharing the skills they have learned with other Huaorani community members.
Destination Leadership — Recognizing destination leadership, including cities, provinces, states, countries and regions that are demonstrating environmental best practices, protection of cultural and natural heritage, benefits to local communities and educating travelers on the principles of sustainability.
- Aruba Tourism Board, Caribbean — Setting an example of what is possible to combat global climate change, Aruba has invested heavily in alternative energy, including extensive wind and solar systems now in place, with the goal of becoming the world’s first country to operate 100 percent fossil-fuel-free by 2020. Its smart growth model also encourages “walkable destinations” to reduce reliance on automobiles.
- Delaware North Yosemite, United States — The GreenPath program of Delaware North Yosemite provides visitors to this iconic destination with lodging, food and recreational activities while adhering to five key sustainability indicators — healthy food, healthy living, guest education, environmental stewardship and green operations — across their concession facilities.
- Val d’Aran, Spain — A public-private partnership in the central Pyrenees mountains of Catalonia, Val d’Aran is a popular winter and summer vacation destination that also focuses on protecting cultural and natural history by working with local villagers to safeguard their culinary and other traditions, and with wildlife researchers working to protect different species, including the European brown bear.
Costas Christ, chairman of National Geographic World Legacy Awards, said, “Sustainable tourism is evolving from a niche trend to a true global transformation of how the travel and tourism industry operates and what impacts it has on the people and places that travelers visit. The World Legacy Awards are about celebrating that transformation, pushing it to the cutting edge of leadership today, as represented by these 15 finalists and others around the world who share their passion for doing well by doing good.”
The winners will be announced at a gala at the World Legacy Awards Ceremony in March 2015 at ITB Berlin. Finalists and winners will also be featured in National Geographic Traveler magazine and other National Geographic media.
For more information on the World Legacy Awards, go to www.nationalgeographic.com/worldlegacyawards/.