National Geographic Travel Announces 2016 World Legacy Awards Finalists

Finalists Comprises of Travel Companies, Organizations And Destinations Driving Positive Transformation Of The Global Tourism Industry

The 15 finalists of the 2016 National Geographic World Legacy Awards were unveiled this past week. The World Legacy Awards, a partnership between the National Geographic Society and ITB Berlin, showcase the leading travel and tourism companies, organizations and destinations — ranging from large resorts to small eco-lodges and from wildlife conservancies to geoparks — driving the sustainable tourism transformation of the travel industry based on National Geographic’s work of inspiring people to care about the planet.NG-World-Legacy-Awards-634x358

Costas Christ, chairman of National Geographic World Legacy Awards, said, “Sustainable tourism is the foundation for the future of the travel industry, and those destinations and companies that understand this today will be the global leaders of tomorrow. Tourism is based on selling culture and nature — the very things sustainable tourism practices work to protect. Have you ever heard someone come back from a vacation and say, ‘I just had a great holiday hiking in a dead rain forest and then staying on a beach filled with trash?’ The World Legacy Awards finalists are all about protecting the places travelers love to visit and benefiting the local people who live there. Together, these 15 finalists are working towards a future when all tourism will be sustainable.

More than 150 World Legacy Awards entries were received, representing 51 countries and six continents. Finalists in five award categories were selected by an international team of judges. The judging process also included on-site inspections of all finalists. For details on the judges, go to http://www.nationalgeographic.com/worldlegacyawards/judging.html.

The National Geographic World Legacy Awards finalists are:

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.arkaba-walk-on-white_new

Arkaba by Wild Bush Luxury, Australia — Located on the outskirts of Flinders Ranges National Park, Wild Bush has systematically restored a 60,000-acre former sheep ranch into a thriving wildlife conservancy. Sharing its scientific monitoring of the area’s biodiversity with its guests, conservation groups and community members, Wild Bush is demonstrating that eco-tourism can be a vehicle for nature conservation and rural economic growth.The Elephant Camp

A Unique Elephant Experience at Elephant Hill, Thailand

A Unique Elephant Experience at Elephant Hill, Thailand

Elephant Hills, Thailand — With two tented camps bordering remote Khao Sok National Park, Elephant Hills focuses on the protection of the endangered wild Asian elephant. Through guest and community education, including caring for rescued elephants, Elephant Hills is demonstrating that local livelihoods can be improved through conservation-based tourism, while supporting an alternative to captive elephant riding as a tourism attraction.

Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda, Mexico — This nonprofit grassroots community organization has been instrumental in the creation and maintenance of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, an area of rich biodiversity in central Mexico. Working with local communities, Sierra Gorda has provided new opportunities for employment, encouraging and supporting the development of small eco-tourism businesses, while monitoring and tracking benefits to biodiversity conservation and economic development.

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 emissions reduction.

Mission Hills, China

Mission Hills, China

Mission Hills, China —Demonstrating that environmental responsibility can be adopted across the Chinese tourism industry, Mission Hills published a sustainability manual and was one of the first resorts in mainland China to engage in green operations. They launched an educational campaign against the sale of ivory and shark fin. Incorporating solar-powered golf carts and solar “pest control,” Mission Hills Haikou earned the UK based Golf Environment Organization’s certification in 2014.

Laguna Lodge, Guatemala — A luxury eco-lodge focused on green operations and environmental responsibility, Laguna Lodge uses solar power and carefully tracks and monitors energy, water, waste and purchasing. It grows most of its own food, sources locally, and offers a vegetarian and vegan menu to all guests. It also offers cooking classes and highlights the environmentally responsible benefits of food choices.

Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Portugal — Located in Lisbon, this hotel works to minimize negative impacts on the environment, implement environmentally friendly operations and serve as a role model for Portugal’s tourism industry. In addition to careful tracking of energy and water, the hotel’s “Green Squad” provides leadership in implementing innovative sustainable tourism ideas both in the hotel and the community.

SENSE OF PLACE — Recognizing excellence in enhancing cultural authenticity, including implementing vernacular architecture and design, support for the protection of historic monuments, archaeological sites, indigenous heritage and artistic traditions.

CGH Earth, India — CGH Earth operates 16 properties in southern India emphasizing local cultural heritage, including lodge design, community relations and helping guests experience authentic local culture. All of its properties emulate the traditional design of the region’s villages and are built using local, recycled and reclaimed materials, while the introduction of organic farming and local markets contributes to the conservation of local biodiversity.

Tierra Patagonia, Chile — Built to blend harmoniously with the dramatic landscape of Torres Del Paine National Park, the goal of the lodge construction was to create a place that not only used local materials but also took care to ensure the least amount of disruption possible to the surrounding environment, taking wind patterns, animal trails and native vegetation into account in the lodge design.

TIME Unlimited Tours, New Zealand — TIME (To Integrate Maori Experiences) Unlimited Tours is an Auckland-based eco-tourism company offering environmentally friendly tours across New Zealand. A Maori-owned company, TIME Unlimited introduces guests to both the natural and cultural heritage of New Zealand, providing a “living cultural” experience that immerses guests in the local Maori way of life, benefiting local communities while promoting sustainable tourism. Continue reading