Eco Resort Misool wins Tourism for Tomorrow Environment Award

Misool Rangers on patrol

Misool Rangers on patrol

Proving once again that hotels can be responsible businesses acting as a force for good in their communities, Misool Eco Resort has been named the winner of the WTTC 2017 Tourism for Tomorrow Environment Award.

The Tourism for Tomorrow Awards celebrate inspirational, world-changing tourism initiatives from all over the globe. Awards are presented in five categories, which reflect the WTTC’s aim of ‘balancing the interests of people, planet, and profits’.

In keeping with the United Nation’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, and with the WTTC’s firm commitment to a greener, more sustainable sector, the 2017’s Awards winners are notable for their forward thinking and eco-positive approach. The Winners are also all contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) laid out in the UN’s 2030 Agenda.

The Awards are judged by a panel of independent experts. Academics, business leaders, NGO and governmental representatives all join forces to whittle down the finalists to just five winners.

David Scowsill, President & CEO, WTTC, said, “I am delighted by the high standard of all our finalists. Those taking away the Awards this year represent the very best in sustainable tourism, and we hope that their example will both educate their peers and lead the sector forward.

The Travel & Tourism sector is growing fast, and we have to ensure that this growth does not see short-term gains prioritised over the longer-term health of local environments and communities. This year’s Award winners demonstrate not only that tourism can be sustainable, but that it can bring tangible improvements to both the environmental and cultural surroundings in which it operates. We will see the Travel & Tourism sector driving forward to ensure a more sustainable world.”

Misool Eco Resort eastern Indonesia has been working since 2005 to protect the reefs around Raja Ampat that WWF has described as a ‘species factory’. Part of the Coral Triangle, located at the northwest corner of Indonesia’s West Papua province, the archipelago of more than 1500 islands spreads over 40,000 km² of land and sea. It is home at least 1,400 tropical fish species.

But in recent years the region has seen dramatic population growth, increasing pressure on the reefs from a range of threats including longlining and dynamite blast fishing, shark finning, logging, mining, and oil exploration.

Misool Eco Resort began to persuade local people of the merits of a ‘no take zone’ around their island to preserve this unique natural environment. Leased directly from the local village, their first No-Take Zone encompassed 425 sq km of reef surrounding the resort island in Southeast Misool. Five years later, community leaders from a second village asked Misool to help create a second conservation area, meaning the No-Take Zone grew to include the islands of Daram, bringing the total No-Take Zone to 828 sq km.

That year, Misool Eco Resort and Shark Savers also successfully petitioned the Raja Ampat government to declare Raja Ampat a shark and manta sanctuary.

Inside the No-Take Zone, all fishing, shark finning and harvesting of turtle eggs and shellfish are prohibited, enforced by a 15 person Misool Ranger Patrol that patrols between the resort and three remote Ranger Stations. Meanwhile, research programmes such as the Misool Manta Project are monitoring the health of local marine populations, while community schemes range from direct employment of 75 local community members, a recycling project, and the Lamakera Program, a 5-year program to end the illegal hunting of mantas and sharks by providing alternative livelihoods to marginal communities.

As a result of the work illegal fishing activity has been reduced by 86% inside the No-Take Zones, and as a result, fish biomass has increased by over 250% in the last 6 years, and in some areas, the increase has been over 600%.

Fiona Jeffrey, OBE, Chair, WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, said: "This year’s Tourism for Tomorrow winners continue to push the sustainability agenda and walk the talk in terms of developing a better, more responsible, and accountable sector, better tourism experiences and a protected planet. None of this is achieved through a short term initiative.

These companies have all proven that sustainable development sits at the heart of their DNA and they live and breathe these values with outstanding economic, environmental and social results. They are great role models we can all learn from and apply to businesses all over the world."

Jeff Rutledge, CEO, AIG Travel, the headline sponsors of the Awards, said: “The 2017 Tourism for Tomorrow Award winners are an inspiration to us all. By actively empowering the communities in which they are based through their conservation and educational initiatives, our winners and finalists are proving that sustainability really does make practical sense for the Travel and Tourism industry.”

For more information on the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards and all the winners, please visit www.wttc.org/tourism-for-tomorrow-awards

Full List of Winners and Finalists:

Community Award

  • WINNER – Ol Peteja Conservancy, Kenya
  • FINALIST – Cinnamon Wild Yala, Sri Lanka
  • FINALIST – G Adventures, Canada

Destination Award

  • WINNER – Chobe, Makgadikdgadi, and Okvango delta Ramsar site, Botswana Tourism Organisation, Botswana
  • FINALIST – City of Bydgoszcz, Poland
  • FINALIST - Pallas-Yllästunturi  National Park, Finland

Environment Award

  • WINNER – Misool, Indonesia
  • FINALIST – Biosphere Expeditions, UK
  • FINALIST – Caiman Ecological Refuge, Brazil

Innovation Award

  • WINNER – Mapping Ocean Wealth Initiative, The Nature Conservancy, USA
  • FINALIST – NATIVE Hotels and Accessible Tourism, Spain
  • FINALIST – Soel Yachts, The Netherlands

People Award

  • WINNER - The J Willard and Alice S Marriot Foundation’s China Hospitality Education Initiative (CHEI), China
  • FINALIST – Desert & Delta Safaris, Botswana
  • FINALIST – STREETS International, Vietnam

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