Animal Welfare and Accessible Tourism take the Gold at the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2014

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A South African animal sanctuary and a Brazilian adventure resort specialising in accessible tourism were announced Joint Overall Winners this morning at the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2014 in London, sponsored by the Sultanate of Oman Ministry of Tourism.

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Our winners...are resilient, determined, humanising advocates for their destinations. They are the future of tourism

In a special ceremony at the World Travel Market’s Global Stage as part of the World Responsible Tourism Day annual celebrations, South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance and Campo and Parque dos Sonhos jointly took the coveted position of Overall Winners from of a selection of 25 finalists gathered from around the world.

“The judges wanted to recognise two very different winners - Campo and Parque de Sonhos and South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance - for the overall award” said Harold Goodwin, Chair of the Judging Panel.

“The Sanctuary Alliance for demonstrating that animal attractions can liberate previously captive wildlife and, without petting or exploitation, be commercially successful. Parque de Sonhos for demonstrating that truly inclusive tourism can enhance the adventure activity experiences for everyone, and enable families and friends to share their leisure and the experiences. Both winners demonstrate that it is possible to address the rights agenda, to swim against the tide, and also achieve a successful business.”

Speaking before a packed audience of over 500 tourism professionals, media, ministers and officials, Justin Francis, managing director of responsibletavel.com pinpointed what makes the Award winners the leaders in responsible tourism:

“Our winners have a vision that extends beyond the commercial – linking business success with the wellbeing of local communities and the longevity of their environments. They want to make profits with principles, communicate balance sheets alongside beliefs, and won’t undermine passion in the pursuit of professionalism. They are resilient, determined, humanising advocates for their destinations. They are the future of tourism.”

The Awards were once again sponsored by the Sultanate of Oman Ministry of Tourism. Her Excellency Maitha Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary for the Oman Ministry of Tourism, who handed out the Awards, said:

“As proud headline sponsor of the Awards for the second time, the Oman Ministry of Tourism is delighted to return to London to meet this year’s inspirational finalists in person. As The Sultanate of Oman cements its commitment as a leader of responsible tourism development in the Arabian Peninsula, we are pleased to congratulate the vision of those Award winners throughout the world providing leadership in their own sectors, and effectively contributing to making tourism a growing sustainable industry.”

The Awards are the flagship event of WTM’s World Responsible Tourism Programme, extended for the first time across four days this year. Simon Press, Awards Judge and Senior Exhibition Director at World Travel Market, had this to say:

"Congratulations to South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance and Campo and Pargue dos Sonhos for being the overall winners of the award. Animal Welfare and disability access are two of the key issues in responsible tourism so I congratulate both companies, and all the category award winners, for their great work. I found this year’s judging process again inspiring to see so many travel companies acting in such a responsible manner.”

Read below for the full list of this year’s finalists, or log on to http://www.worldresponsibletourismawards.com to read their stories, download images, or watch videos from the Overall Winners. You can also access a full free copy of Progress in Responsible Tourism Vol 3 (2), edited by Harold Goodwin and Xavier Font.

A photo library of winners images is accessible here: http://www.responsibletravel.com/awards/media/

Additional photos of the ceremony can be found at WTM's picture library after 14:00 today at: http://wtm.mediafiler.net/.

1 Joint Overall Winners - sponsored by the Sultanate of Oman Ministry of Tourism
Campo & Parque dos Sonhos, Brazil and South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance, South Africa

2. Best Animal Welfare Initiative - supported by Born Free Foundation
Joint Gold Winners: World Animal Protection, UK/International and South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance, South Africa

3. Best Aviation Programme for Carbon Reduction - sponsored by Visit Gozo
Gold Winner: Thomson Airways, UK/International

4. Best for Beach Tourism - sponsored by Jersey Tourism
Gold Winner: Chole Mjini Conservation & Development Co. Ltd, Tanzania
Silver Winner: Casa de las Olas, Mexico

5. Best City Hotel - sponsored by Los Cabos Tourism Board
Gold Winner: Hotel Verde, Cape Town, South Africa
Joint Silver Winners: ITC Grand Chola, India and Jurys Inn Brighton, UK

6. Best Cultural Heritage Attraction - sponsored by Wightlink
Silver Winner: Festivals of Puebla, Mexico

7. Best Destination - sponsored by Visit Norway
Gold Winner: V&A Waterfront Cape Town, South Africa

8. Best for Engaging People & Culture - sponsored by New York State Division of Tourism
Gold Winner: Kutch Adventures, India
Silver Winner: Footsteps Ecolodge, The Gambia

9. Best for People with Disabilities - sponsored by Enable Holidays
Joint Gold Winners: Campo & Parque dos Sonhos, Brazil and Cavan Town & Environs, Ireland
Silver Winner: NATIVE Charming Hotels & Accessible Tourism, Spain

10. Best for Poverty Reduction - sponsored by Tobago House of Assembly
Gold Winner: Adventure Alternative, UK
Joint Silver Winners: Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya and Mdumbi Backpackers, South Africa

11. Best for Wildlife Conservation - sponsored by Discover Dominica Authority
Gold Winner: Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours, Australia
Joint Silver Winners: Chambal Safari Hotels Pvt Ltd, India and On Track Safaris, South Africa

12. Best Short Film for Responsible Tourism - sponsored by Fair Trade Tourism
Gold Winner: Travel Oregon: Communities Powered by Travel - John Day River Territory, Oregon, USA
Joint Silver Winners: GLP Films: Basecamp Foundation - Pioneering Sustainable Tourism in Kenya’s Masai Mara, Kenya and World Wildlife Fund - The Guardians

13. People's Choice for Responsible Tourism - sponsored by Spirit Slovenia
Winner: Nam Nern Night Safari, Lao PDR
Runners-Up: Chepu Adventures Ecolodge, Chile, The Great Projects Africa, Asia, South America & Europe, Mara Naboisho Conservancy, Kenya, people & places, UK, ReefCI, Belize, Snowcarbon, The Alps, TUI Nederland, the Netherlands and Village Ways, India & Ethiopia

  • Ends -

About the Awards

For more information on the World Responsible Tourism Awards visit http://www.worldresponsibletourismawards.com

Now in their 11th year, the World Responsible Tourism Awards are headline sponsored by the Sultanate of Oman Ministry of Tourism, and were founded in 2004 to celebrate the most inspiring stories in responsible tourism.

The Awards are organised by responsibletravel.com and ICRT (International Center for Responsible Tourism). The Awards ceremony is hosted by World Travel Market during its dedicated World Responsible Tourism Day, which this year takes place on Wednesday 05 November.

The event has the support of prominent mainstream media partners such as Metro, as well as industry broadcasters such as TTG (Scandinavia, Middle East and North Africa), Green Hotelier and Selling Long Haul.

This year, the Awards feature 11 categories covering a variety of topics, which reflect the hottest issues currently debated in the world or responsible and sustainable tourism.

About responsibletravel.com:

responsibletravel.com is the world's leading online travel agent for responsible holidays and a pioneer of responsible tourism. Started in 2001 with backing from Dame Anita Roddick of The Body Shop the site's mantra is 'travel like a local'. It sells holidays that are about more than just a brief stay somewhere - instead it is travel that offers a real connection with the people, the landscape, the culture, the food and the environment. It offers over 7,500 responsible holidays from over 3,000 holiday providers which all support communities and conservation. Handpicked local specialists provide authentic holidays for those seeking adventure, culture, or luxury whether travelling with family, joining a small group or looking for tailor-made experiences worldwide as diverse as tiger safaris http://www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/tiger-safaris or winter adventures http://www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/winter.

In addition responsibletravel.com:

  • founded and organises The World Responsible Tourism Awards, celebrating 11 years at World Travel Market this year.
  • campaigns for positive change in the travel and tourism industry.

CEO Justin Francis has been included in Courvoisiers The Future 500, Thames and Hudsons 60 Innovators Shaping Our Creative Future and taken his place on the Advisory Board of The International Centre for Responsible Tourism at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The company is based in Brighton's North Laine district, England.

About the Sultanate of Oman

The Sultanate of Oman's diverse landscape includes 3165 kilometres of pristine, sandy Indian ocean beaches, magnificent desert expanses, majestic fjords in Musandam in the far north, the striking Hajar Mountains, and the lush green valleys of Dhofar, in the south. Approximately the size of Germany Oman's diverse natural biodiversity will leave you breathless.

Whether you have a passion for adventure, culture or luxury Oman has something for everyone. From diving and sailing to dolphin and turtle spotting the adventure possibilities are endless. Home of frankincense, Oman's 6000 years of history includes four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 500 forts and castles, and the modern day Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Royal Opera House.

Oman air has a wide range of international flight connections to Oman's capital city Muscat including daily non - stop flights from London Heathrow arriving 7 hours later in Muscat with a wide range of connecting flights to Salalah and Musandam.

Oman is committed to developing tourism that supports its local communities and also promotes cultural integrity and the protection of the environment, historic and cultural heritage. For more information visit http://www.omantourism.gov.om

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Sarah Bareham
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