Shimla: Spiti Ecosphere, a collaborative effort of the local community of Spiti and professionals from diverse backgrounds to effectively span the bridge from the general to the niche, won Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Award â€“ 2008 under the category of Community-based Homestays.
After six months of short-listing the finalists and checking out the final eight properties, Wild Asia (WA) announced its four 2008 Responsible Tourism (RT) Awards winners.
This yearâ€™s Award winners had to fulfill the following criteria set by WA:
This year, WA introduced a new set of criteria which included:
- Sense of place â€” whether tourists understand their destinations better through operatorsâ€™ efforts.
- Sustainability â€” whether these RT efforts are long-term.
- Involvement of guests â€” do the operators involve their guests in their RT practices?
- Internalisation â€” how much is sustainability part of the day-to-day operations?
- Reach â€” are the ideas and practices shared across the destination or industry?
The eight top finalists under different categories were:
1.) Community-run Homestays
- Andaman Discoveries Community-based Tourism (Thailand)
- Ecosphere (Himachal Pradesh, India)
2.) Budget Accommodation
- Tree Tops Jungle Lodge (Sri Lanka)
- Faasai Resort & Spa (Thailand)
3.) Mid-range Resorts & Hotels
- Alila Ubud Resort (Indonesia)
- Alila Manggis Resort (Indonesia)
4.) Luxury and Boutique Resorts
- El Nido Resorts (Philippines)
- Six Senses Hideaway Yao Noi (Thailand)
Ecosphere (HP, India), Tree Tops Jungle Lodge (Sri Lanka), Alila Manggis Resort (Indonesia) and Six Senses Hideaway Yao Noi (Thailand) were 2008 WAâ€™s RT winners in their respective category.
Ecosphere is a social enterprise that works on the sustainable development of Spiti valley (a cold desert in the Trans-Himalayas of India), by focusing on economic empowerment, conservation & development. Ecosphere works on a wide range of activities to achieve this, of which the development and promotion of responsible travel is one of the key focus areas. Ecosphere’s program on tourism develops unique, authentic & reliable tourism activities & experiences for visitors that are linked to communityâ€™s livelihoods. This not only provides the community with additional sources of income but also serves as an incentive for them to conserve their unique natural and cultural heritage and environment.
Ten per cent of tourism revenue goes back to a conservation fund and now adds an extra 20% to the peopleâ€™s income and the extras are used for household expenses and education.
Photo of Kaza by: Anish Joel.