Now here's the mother of all lists for anyone interested in volunteer vacations, eco-tourism, sustainable travel, or simply preserving either the environment or local economies. Who isn't in favor of at least one of those?
Get inspired by Responsible Travel's 2006 First Choice Responsible Tourism Awards. The list will make me you want to toss work aside and dream up a vacation to help the planet stay glued together. The award list gives a brief analysis of the unique qualities that made category winners win. In considering a destination with environmentally sound practices - this list can serve as a great resource.
- Overall joint winner: Intrepid Travel (an organization that sets the bar for travelling responsibly and involving local communities)
- Overall joint winner: Ol Malo Lodge and Trust (an eco-lodge in Kenya)
- Best tour operator: Intrepid Travel, UK
- Best large hotel (more than 50 rooms): Orchid Hotel, Mumbai (zero garbage hotel)
- Best small hotel (fewer than 50 rooms): II N'gwesi Community Lodge, Kenya (40% of profits go back to the 600 plus families that share lodge ownership)
- Best transport initiative: The Bittern Community Rail Partnership, UK (increasing visitor traffic to small communities/businesses and decreasing car traffic on roads)
- Best in a mountain environment: Whistler Blackcomb Mountain Resort Ltd, Canada (exemplary habitat conservation efforts)
- Best marine environment: Wakatobi Dive Resort, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia (reef preservation efforts)
- Best for poverty reduction: Ol Malo Lodge and Trust, Kenya (eradicating disease, training locals to do the same)
- Best protected area: Napo Wildlife Center, Ecuador (national park preservation)
- Best for conservation of an endangered species: Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, South Africa (helped reintroduce cheetah and wild dogs to the reserve)
- Best for innovation/technology: Bicycling Empowerment Network (BEN), South Africa (recycling and refurbishing abandoned bikes and giving tours sans pollution)
- Best volunteering organization: Biosphere Expeditions, UK
- Best destination: Aspen, Colorado (for leading the environmental effort for a ski destination by pushing for affordable housing, investing in local farmland, and more)
- Person who has made greatest contribution to responsible tourism: Mark Smith, The Man in Seat 61 (a man passionate for trains and other alternatives to flying)
The list was nominated by a combined total of 1200 readers from ResponsibleTravel.com, The Times, and Geographic Magazine.