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As well as ITP member Soneva, the list includes a global campaign to end ‘canned hunting’, a tour operator offering locally-led alternative city tours and a local mangrove conservation and education project in Madagascar.
Other properties and hotel groups shortlisted for the prestigious awards include Green Hotelier regular Shangri-La's Vilingili Resort & Spa, Scandic, Tiger Trails Jungle Lodge, Turtle Bay Beach Club, Uakari Lodge, RuralSuite Hotel-Apartamentos, Atlas Kasbah Ecolodge, Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat, Cnoc Suain and Matava Resort. ITP partner TUI UK & Ireland are also listed.
The judging panel narrowed down the finalists across 12 categories, recognising achievements from animal welfare campaigns to accessible tourism practices in one of the most diverse lists of finalists the World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM London has ever seen.
The organisations from 20 countries range from industry giants TUI Travel UK & Ireland, to tiny individual enterprises like Cnoc Suain; from city tours to an isolated Amazon ecolodge; and from mainstream tour operators to small, niche businesses. Cyprus, Hong Kong and Finland are represented for the first time ever.
Managing director of Responsible Travel, and founder of the Awards Justin Francis says, “In our entries this year we’ve seen organisations clearly influenced by the work of our previous winners, for example city tours run by homeless guides.
“It is our responsibility to find those inspirational people again and looking at our diverse list of finalists this year, I think we have. The organisations here really prove that responsible tourism is viable and can be successful in all types of tourism, from niche to mainstream. They are the shining stars of responsible tourism.”
Professor Harold Goodwin, chair of the Awards judging panel noted that 2015 has revealed some of the strongest entries ever received by the team. He says “Our aim is to surprise and inspire, but the standard is rising, and we have to keep pushing up our expectations of our winners.
“Being a finalist for one of these Awards is not easy; the organisations are required to go through a rigorous process, evidencing the impact rather than intent of their work.
“We can only award those who enter, and I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to share their stories with the judges. The finalists we’ve chosen are just the tip of the iceberg of ground-breaking, inspirational work being done in responsible tourism across the globe”.
Members of the public can vote for their favourite in the People’s Choice in Responsible Tourism in association with National Geographic Traveller (UK) magazine. Finalists for this include Green Hotelier Award winner Hotel Verde, and V & A Waterfront, Cape Town. All the winners including the overall winner will be announced at World Travel Market in London on Wednesday 4th November.
You can see the full shortlist here.