The India Responsible Tourism Awards 2018

The India Responsible Tourism Awards 2018 were presented at the Outlook Responsible Tourism Summit in Delhi on February 10th.

Outlook Responsible Tourism Awards

Outlook Responsible Tourism Awards

Posted by Responsible Tourism on Saturday, 10 February 2018


The Indian Responsible Tourism Awards is a regional partner of the WTM Responsible Tourism Awards in London. Founded in 2004 by Responsible Travel, it has established itself as a global touchstone of responsible tourism with chapters in Ireland, Africa, and of course, India.

In keeping with the international standards, the judging process for IRTA was intensive and rigorous, and spread over months… And the winners were chosen by a formidable jury of 17 experts! The jury spent a significant amount of time and effort on judging the Awards this year, and there were a lot of debates. The judges’ reasons were specific, and it is important to note that few if any businesses or organisations are responsible in every aspect of their business. None are perfect but by far, the winners selected by the judges this year are leaders in Responsible Tourism across India.

Family owned Homestay


Granny’s Inn, Varanasi
Jilling Estate, District Nainital
Ghoomakad, Rakkar Village, near Dharamsala
Maheshganj Estate, Balakhana, Nabadwip
Chhotaram Prajapat’s Homestay, Salawas, near Jodhpur

Gold: Ghoomakad, Indian Himalayas.

Developed by a family in the village of Rakkar, near Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh Ghoomakad offers co-living in a traditional mud-house setting with a co-working space, a 20+ seater studio with reliable internet and power. The judges were taken by the way in which organic farming and waste management and recycling have been turned into activities for guests; and by the survival camp experience which enables guests to connect with nature and mountains and to learn about them and about themselves. This is a homestay in a village in the mountains, which offers young techies an opportunity to experience village life. Offering a village life experience with modern technology enables Ghoomakad to attract guests keen to take a bath in the mountain stream, work on the internet during the day and enjoy the cultural life and peace of the village at night.

Silver: Chhotaram Prajapat

Chhotaram Prajapat’s Homestay describes itself as “an initiative in reality” they have “taken an initiative to offer the unaltered and the real-time panoramaof their civilization. The village of Salawas is in the outskirts of Jodhpur. The Prajapati’s are the weaver class, and that remains the main income of the family, the homestay provides a supplementary income. The family offers their guests a traditional family experience. The fifteen members of the family are the staff of the homestay and guests eat from the family kitchen the judges were impressed by the extent of the guests’s engagement with the family and the opportunity to learn from the family how to make a durry.


Village Ways, Uttarakhand
Demul, Spiti
Friends of Orchha, Madhya Pradesh
The Goat Village, Uttarakhand
Baramati Agri Tourism, Maharashtra

Community-owned Homestays & Agri-Tourism

 Gold: Friends of Orchha, Madhya Pradesh

The Friends of Orchha is a registered non-profit organisation formed in 2006 to create livelihoods, preserve the built heritage of Orchha and to promote cultural exchange between visitors and locals. The Friends of Orchha initiative was a response to four years of drought in Bundelkhand to spread the economic and cultural benefits of tourism to the families of small farmers, artisans and labourers. The Friends of Orchha provided the capital to build a sanitary block in the family compounds. The judges were impressed by the business model. The Friends of Orchha provided the loan capital for the sanitation block repaid from tourism earnings. The families provided the labour to build the blocks and gain additional income. This business model enabled poor families to engage in business, earn an additional income while avoiding risk. Each of the families has at least tripled their incomes and acquired an asset. There is obvious scope for replication. The women from the six families currently engaged in the project are the key actors. The fact that foreigners stay with them, and eat food cooked by them, has countered discrimination, boosted their confidence and social status and empowered them.

Silver: Demul Homestays, Himachal Pradesh

Demul Village Homestays was started in 2004 with the help of the Spiti based social enterprise Ecosphere in order to diversify livelihood opportunities ion a community otherwise dependent on agriculture in an environment where only one crop can be produced each year, during the six months of winter temperature often drop below 30⁰C. The judges were impressed by the scale of what has been achieved in Demul. There are 55 households in the village, 48 of them have had a room converted to a guest room, guests living with the family. Using traditional patterns of village governance guests are allocated to homestays on a rotational basis and at the end of each year the money is distributed equally amongst all of the homestays, the cooperation avoids the damaging impact of excessive competition and falling room rents.

Heritage Property


Parsi Manor, Matheran
Ahhichatragarh Fort, Ranvas, Nagaur
Chapslee, Shimla
Bhuj House, Guajarat
Patan Mahal, Rajasthan


Gold: Bhuj House, Kutch,

In 2013 the Bhujwala family decided to restore the Bhuj House, their traditional Parsi home into a heritage homestay in the historic town of Bhuj in the Kutch district of Gujarat. One of only two Parsi houses remaining in Bhuj, its future has been secured, and the Bhujwala family has protected the Agiary through a trust maintained by the family. This is a homestay designed to conserve the Parsi heritage through tourism. “The house is filled with family treasures, photographs and memorabilia which offer a sense of the past, as well as a mix of vintage and contemporary Kutchi fabrics which can be found throughout the region. The food is typical of the Parsi community and served in the inner courtyard of the house; a peaceful oasis in the midst of a bustling town.” The Bhuj House is an authentic symbol of the community which once thrived in Bhuj .

The Bhuj House stood alone in this category, standing comparison with previous winners in this category internationally. Based on the applications before them the judges did not identify worthy Silver in this category.

Urban Neighbourhood


Mumbai Magic
CYCLIN’ Jaipur
The Preserve Alleppey Society
Reality Tours & Travels
Calcutta Photo Tours

Gold: Reality Tours & Travel, Mumbai

Reality Tours & Travel was created in 2005 by Krishna Pujari and Chris Way. Their objective was to show the positive side of slums and to break down negative stereotypes about its residents, and Dharavi, in Mumbai, in particular. In 2007 Reality Tours set up a Community Centre in Dharavi to provide English and computer classes. In August 2009, the NGO Reality Gives to provide education; they have trained 15 local women to provide training in English, computer and soft skills to 400 students using child-centered and interactive teaching methods. They have engaged with 130 children through a variety of sports programs. Reality Gives is funded by donations from travellers and Reality Tours & Travel which gives 80% of their profits, about 30% of their revenue, to support local development projects in Dharavi. To date that amounts to Rp100, 000,000. Around 15,000 people go with Reality Tours into Dharavi led by local people. The tours provide employment for 50 people and for their clients provide an authentic experience and contribute to breaking down harmful stereotypes of slum areas and increase the pride and confidence of local people. Recently the co-founder, Krishna Pujari, was featured in the World Travel and Tourism Council’s “Transforming Our World” series.

In 2012, they were recognised as overall winners of the Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM, London. Since then they have expanded to Rajasthan and Kerala by offering multi-day tours and in 2014, they began working with the New Delhi slum, Sanjay Colony.  The initiative has been replicated in Metro Manila by Smokey Tours. Just short of 85% of clients reported that their perception of life in Dharavi had changed. Independent research by a Durham University student found that 79% had a positive view of Reality Tours, only 5% had a negative view, the remainder were either neutral or did not know of them.


Silver: The Preserve Alleppey Society

The Preserve Alleppey project was started by the Lion’s Ladies Club of Alleppey in 2000. They recognised that tourism could be used to preserve the character of the town. The group initiated the first garbage collection in Alleppey in 2003 and undertook a canal cleaning and beautification project on St George St. in 2004. Registered as a Charitable Society in 2004 the 15 members provide walking tours with local guides who point out local features which otherwise would be missed and introduce local food and crafts. . Educated women not formally employed found an opportunity to work creatively and to do something to better the town. The funds raised in 2006 -2007 were donated to a Self Help Women’s group set up by the local women’s college to manufacture paper bags providing employment and reducing the use of plastic. The Society is now in the process of documenting Alleppey with a view to publishing a guide to its history and buildings and the different local and migrant communities which have made it their home. The judges recognised that the Alleppey Society is successfully using tourism to create local pride and to contribute to conserving the town. It is a model which could, and should, be replicated elsewhere.

Best Boutique


Pepper Trail, Kerala
Glenburn Tea Estate, West Bengal
Maachli, Maharashtra
Shahpura Bagh, Rajasthan
Meena Bagh, Himachal Pradesh

Gold: Maachli

At Maachli in they offer guests an immersion in nature, an opportunity to be rejuvenated by listening to the rhythmic sound of nature, they aim to “tune man’s cord with nature.” They offer village themed cottages raised above coconut, beetlenut, bananas and spices. Guests engage in the practical and cultural life of the village, and in agriculture and nature. Maachli offers a boutique farm stay; guests are provided with an opportunity to indulge in abundance in a preserved forest where in the last 15 years they have planted 1,000 habitat friendly trees. 90% of the staff are female and local sourcing and recipes ensure that additional incomes are created for many villagers.

Silver: Meena Bagh

Recently constructed in the Himachali style with wood-panelled and mud-plastered walls the Meena Bagh Shimla reflects the local culture in music, food, architecture and hospitality. They encourage writers and artists to stay and work in the Meena Bagh offering a 50% discount. The resort harvests rainwater, recycles grey water and biodegradable waste, solar heats it hot water and uses LED lights throughout and the property is fully thermal and sound insulated. Only waste wood was used for the panelling and the furniture, local people built the property and have subsequently been employed to run the resort.

Best Outdoor Operator


White Magic Adventure
Planet Abled
Quest Expeditions
Konkan Explorers
Global Himalayan Expeditions

The judges were pleased to see that Planet Abled recognised in 2016 for the Award of Best Innovation by a Tour Operator and the Overall Winner in the India Responsible Tourism Awards has continued to grow and that it now offers outdoor soft adventure holidays for people with disabilities. In the last year Planet Abled has organised a river rafting expedition including people with spinal cord injury and a solo zip wire trip across the Ganga for a blind traveller.

The judges continue to be impressed by Planet Abled. However, although there has been some further development in the last year the judges were unable to award hem with gold again, there was not sufficient growth or innovation to justify this in the Outdoor Operator category. Having in mind winners in similar categories with the Responsible Tourism Awards family the judges were unable to recommend a Gold Award this year. However, there are two very worthy Silver winners.

Silver: Quest Asia Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu
Quest promote activities using non-motorised power: paddle, pedal or wind. They have five activity centres along the coast reducing the local dependency on fishing by providing employment in water sports and hospitality. They employ elderly gardeners to provide them with a livelihood. This Award is for their sea kayaking Paddle for the Environment experience. With core values of environmental and social responsibility Quest employs eight underprivileged boys from the Don Bosco Shelter Home for orphans and street kids as guides, they teach local children kayaking and give life-guard an d snorkelling training to local fishermen to help them find work in tourism, they employ and source locally offering low-impact non-motorised adventure activities. They use solar power to heat water, no bottled water, they use filtered water. All the guides are trained and certified life guards. They have worked with local villagers to clean the beaches.

Silver: Konkan Explorers-Morjim, Goa

The experience of crossing a forest and experiencing the wildlife and habitat in 90 minutes-they promote soft ecological impact nautical activities, to weave a more proper relation with the environment. Each experience is customized according to the wishes of the client as well as their physical and technical skills. The judges were impressed by this approach to low impact ecological experiences. Drawing on Brahmanic socio-religious thinking they seek to create through Grass Roots Ecology a closer relationship between their clients and the natural environment. The act of beaching on a virginal desert tidal island has a major emotional impact. The unsinkable kayaks they use are exceptional tools for delivering proximity to nature and to wind, tides and currents. Where outboard motors are used they operate with 40hp outboards, the lowest safe in that environment. Rather than use a houseboat from Kerala they use a Goan trawler, all the employees are Goan and 40% are women…  The judges also recognised high level of training provided for the guides and the company’s expectation of personal fitness when taking clients into the wild.

Best Cultural Immersion Operator


Culture Aangan
Dirty Feet
Kerala RT Mission
Sound Travels
Folk Tales

Gold: The Folk Tales


Established in 2013 as a “Responsible Rural Travel organization” offer a deep cultural immersion and “hands-on experience of local culture, food, art & craft, music, architecture, wildlife and natural beauty.” The experiences are designed to have positive social, economic and environmental impacts. The judges were impressed by the ethics of the business and their commitment to the principles of the Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism in Destinations. They have a Code of Conduct which defines the character of the services and experiences which the traveller will receive and which ensures that the travel experiences they provide are based on Responsible Tourism principles including local sourcing, respect and meaningful interactions. The judges were particularly impressed by their immersive tour to Meghalaya where tourists spend two days with weavers in the village and weave their own local silk or cotton cloth on a handloom before spending a day with the tea pickers working through the whole process from plucking to drying and packaging. Guests then spend two days living with the indigenous tribes of Meghalaya, their engagement with the folktales, traditional ceremonies and honey extraction practices helps to maintain the culture. They have eliminated the use of plastic water bottles by providing safe potable water. Operating in 11 states they have capped numbers at 500 guests annually so that no village receives more than 50 guests per year. Enough to secure a sustainable additional income without hampering their way of life.

Silver: Culture Aangan

Formed in 2010 and based in Mumbai Culture Aangan’s purpose is to build communities through tourism providing education and using a self-help group model developing branded homestays and the reviving endangered traditional art forms. The judges were particularly impressed by their Sindhudurg tour which over four days offers the guest the opportunity to engage with their hosts’ community life and to understand the four pillars of an Indian village: the panchayat, the temple, well and the school. The guest has an in-depth experience of Indian village life enjoying folk theatre; setting up and dancing Pinguli shadow puppets, visiting the market and mango and cashew orchards; and engaging with the marginalised camel herders.  This tourism intervention has revived the Pinguli puppet craft. The community is asked whether they wish to receive guests before any booking is accepted, they have an effective veto over the arrival of visitors if they choose to use it. Culture Aangan now offers similar programmes in two additional states: Rajasthan and Uttrakhand.

Wildlife Property


SAI Sanctuary Trust, Karnataka
Wildernest, Goa
Off the Grid, Karnataka
Fringe Ford, Kerala
Habre’s Nest, West Bengal

Gold: Fringe Ford, Wayanad, Kerala

A former cardamom and coffee plantation stretching over 1000 acres, 520 acres of which have now been rewilded. The fences with the Wyanad and Tholpaty reserve forests have been removed creating a borderless reserve of Malabar rainforest.  There are just five rooms, a very low impact wilderness guesthouse. Guests eat in the kitchen where local delicacies are cooked. The only activities offered in the wilderness reserve are guided walks. The Travancore flying squirrel, Nilgiri marten, Lion-tailed macaque, Brown palm civet and the Nilgiri langur can all be seen in the reserve along with elephants, gaur, tiger and leopard. The regular presence of wildlife enthusiasts and fieldwork students in the forest has significantly reduced poaching, cannabis cultivation and illicit liquor manufacture. The guesthouse has grid hydroelectricity, grey water is cleaned through a reed bed, brown water goes into septic soak pits. All the staff are from local villages, fresh fruit and vegetables come from the villages, spices and honey comes from the local tribal co-operative in the village.

Silver: SAI Sanctuary, Karnataka, South India

The SAI Sanctuary Trust (SST) is a registered non-profit organisation located in the Western Ghats of southern India—the heart of the watershed area for the entire south Indian peninsula. From the initial purchase of just 55 acres of private forested lands in 1991, the Sanctuary has grown to more than 300 protecting a biodiversity hotspot. They have recently opened two eco-friendly cottages each having two three bedded with attached baths. The sanctuary has strong environmental credentials, and the judges wanted to recognise this as an example of a wildlife sanctuary using tourism as a supplementary income. Guests are welcome, but the flora and fauna of the refuge come first, all travel through the sanctuary is on foot with small groups, trekking through the core area is done only once a day and only with an experienced guide. Silver: Wildernest, Chorla Ghats, Goa,

Sixteen eco-cottages designed out of eco-friendly acacia wood, Wildernest has strived to make living in the wilds a totally new experience to cherish. They actively market both the winter and the monsoon experiences. With foot trails, hides and machans (tree platforms), guided close encounters and talks the judges recognised that Wildernest offers a special wildlife experience; combined with an Ayurshala, local ethnic traditional food, cultural experiences and visits to traditional sanctuaries, holy forests conserved for generations by local people. A mere 10 acres of the private sanctuary of 700 acres sustains the flora and fauna of the sanctuary, and supports 200 families, directly benefitting seven villages.


Overall Winner

Fringe Ford

The judges recognise the importance of the Fringe Ford model, rewilding former plantation land to create a wilderness reserve which creates a larger contiguous reserve by linking Wyanad and Tholpaty reserve forests. Too often the most biologically productive land is take for cultivation and denied to native flora and fauna. Fringe Ford has been championing a White Paper on “Private land participation in preservation and conservation of forests” at the national level. This approach to re-wilding former plantation or agricultural land is increasingly common in southern Africa bringing benefits for wildlife conservation and rural communities. The judges recognise the national importance of the re-wilding initiative at Fringe Ford as a harbinger of change, critical to the future of wildlife in India.

Outstanding Achievement

Kerala Responsible Tourism Mission

The judges were pleased to receive an application from the Kerala Responsible Tourism Mission in the Best Cultural Immersion Tour Operator category. The judges wanted to recognise the outstanding achievement of Kerala’s Responsible Tourism Initiative which over the last ten years has piloted a range of approaches to securing additional livelihoods for local communities and enhancing the guest experience. The Village Life Experiences provide a cultural immersion for guests who benefit them and the villagers who create and share those experiences with their paying guests. These interactions are based on mutual respect and create shared memories and provide an additional income, an incentive, for those villagers to maintain their traditional practices. Forty farmers have restarted paddy cultivation and local arts have been granted a new lease of life. Some 1,100 local people are benefitting from tourism to Kumarakom. This is an exemplary initiative which has been recognised internationally. Now moving beyond the development phase, Village Life Experiences will in 2018 be extended to 20 new villages in all 14 districts of Kerala. Rarely are initiatives piloted, tested, assessed and fine-tuned and then rolled out at scale. This is an outstanding achievement and one that should be widely replicated.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The India Responsible Tourism Awards 2018

In 2016, there were 227 Vietnamese children identified as potential victims of modern slavery in the UK

Leading children’s charity ECPAT UK will mark today’s Anti-Slavery Day (18th October 2017) with the release of an animated film aimed at tackling the growing issue of Vietnamese children being trafficked to the UK for cannabis cultivation.

The Secret Gardeners, created by Ruth Beni of Animage Films and Oscar-nominated animator Erica Russell, aims to inform professionals about the plight of children who are forced by organised crime gangs to grow drugs in houses across the UK but who often face criminalisation and prison.

It is hoped that the film, which is based on real-life experiences of children ECPAT UK has supported, will also educate members of the public who use cannabis about the ‘dirty’ supply chains of marijuana that may include child exploitation.

In 2016, there were 227 Vietnamese children identified as potential victims of modern slavery in the UK. From In the first six months of this year alone there have been 169 referrals of VN children into the NRM, making it the top country for children being trafficked into the UK.

The film will be premiered in London’s historic Frontline club on October 17th 2017.

The Secret Gardeners will also be launched in Vietnam in partnership with the Pacific Links Foundation as part of an innovative education programme in schools to help prevent young people being trafficked.


Chloe Setter, Head of Advocacy, Policy & Campaigns at ECPAT UK, said: “ECPAT has been receiving referrals about children from Vietnam exploited in cannabis cultivation for more than a decade yet this is still a shock to many who use marijuana in the UK. I think many people are unaware of the exploitation in cannabis supply chains and will want to consider the providence of their drugs in the future.


“In our experience, many vulnerable young people from Vietnam are treated as criminals before they are seen as victims of modern slavery, which only retraumatises them and makes it more difficult to gain their trust. We want this film to help inform frontline workers about the rights of child victims of trafficking, as well as to reach out to children in Vietnam who may be at risk.”

Ruth Beni, Director of Animage Films, said: “In creating awareness and prevention campaigns, using animation has proved to be a very effective way to convey the heart-breaking, often harrowing stories of real trafficking victims in an engaging and accessible form.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on In 2016, there were 227 Vietnamese children identified as potential victims of modern slavery in the UK

Future Proofing Tourism in Pembrokeshire

I had the privilege of speaking at a Pembrokeshire Tourism event on Future Proofing Tourism, they recognise that the future of the sector is in the hands of the industry. It is a rare thing now to see the sector coming together to consider competitiveness and sustainability. It was a remarkably young and dynamic and mixed group of people, all committed to making tourism better. They were enthusiastic about using tourism to make Pembrokeshire a better place to live in.

It was clear in the open space session that there was energy and commitment in the room with people ready to take responsibility and collaborate to address a range of issues including market segmentation, extending the season cluster by cluster and creating a skilled workforce able to provide decent jobs.

Like CoaST in Cornwall Pembrokeshire Tourism, has an inclusive membership open to anyone who is directly involved in the tourism economy including those who provide professional and supplier services.#

Regrettably, I had to leave at lunchtime but I am told that the 50 or so who were present “will set about defining more distinct destinations and markets — and re-doubling our ongoing conversations with politicians at all levels. ”

Tourism is looking good in Pembrokeshire. Together and with the support of their communities and politicians they will develop and maintain a great destination, one which because of its diversity can provide a great holiday offering “temporary residence” to like-minded people.

I hope to go back soon  for a holiday.

My presentation is available on Slideshare

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Future Proofing Tourism in Pembrokeshire

Celebrating the decline in the value of the £ – incredible.

The pro-Brexit Mail on Sunday ran this story last weekend.

This is close to celebrating the decline in the value of the £ and the earnings, savings and pensions of anyone holding sterling.

Since the UK referendum vote, the British pound has seen a dramatic and sustained fall in value.

1 USD = 1 Euro =
June 22nd, 2016 68 pence 76 pence
August 24th, 2017 85 pence 92 pence

You can check more historical rates here.

This is good for inbound tourism as the June 2017 figures from Visit Britain show

Note the year on year  decline in inbound business trips of 7%

More data here 

The writing is on the wall and in the media – but it is being ignored. On March 30th 2019 the UK enters the promised land where you can have your cake and eat it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Celebrating the decline in the value of the £ – incredible.

RT Developments in July

Latest RT News just published

Responsible Tourism Developments July 2017

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on RT Developments in July


13th International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations

Working sSymposium 29-30 September 2017 – University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland

Tourism is rapidly growing worldwide and popular destinations are increasingly becoming dominated by tourism. This puts a strain on the infrastructure in wild, rural and built environments. Congested roads, lack of public toilets, overwhelmed rescue teams, sky rocketing housing prices, trampling pressure, soil erosion, fed-up local population, and crowding out effect such as currency fluctuations and human resources, demonstrate some of the issues communities are faced with when attempting to accommodate so many tourists. How should mass tourism be managed? Can it be managed?

The main purpose of this working symposium is to explore strategies to ensure sustainable tourism development where “overtourism” is occurring through local practices and empowered communities. We envisage that this symposium will identify the research agenda on overtourism and we hope that research partnerships will emerge from it and means of knowledge dissemination identified. The following themes are of particular interest but feel free to suggest others:


  • The physical impacts of tourism and transport – in natural and built environments
  • The social impacts of tourism
  • Terrestrial  tourism in natural areas – species and habitat impacts
  • Freshwater and marine tourism
  • Urban tourism
  • The challenge of managing disintermediated travel and tourism


The first of this two-day event will establish what is known and what the challenges are and will be comprised mainly of presentations and Q&A. The second day will take the form of structured parallel workshops designed to develop the research agenda and international collaboration to seek funding and undertake comparative research.


The symposium takes place in Iceland which has been faced with an exponential tourism growth in recent years and many of the challenges of overtourism are readily manifest. An emphasis on responsible tourism management will be beneficial for the future of Icelandic tourism as well as worldwide and guidance towards a tourism that sustains communities and serves as a tool to increase quality of life.



Call for abstracts is now open until 10th of July.



Best regards,


Eyrún Jenný Bjarnadóttir

Sérfræðingur / Researcher

Rannsóknamiðstöð ferðamála

Icelandic Tourism Research Centre

Askja, Háskóli Íslands, Sturlugata 7

IS-101 Reykjavík

Sími / Tel: +354 525 4459

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on RTD-13: TACKLING OVERTOURSIM – LOCAL RESPONSES

Outlook South Asia Responsible Tourism Summit 2018

Outlook Responsible Tourism Summit 2018

The 2017 Summit Report can be downloaded here 

The South Asia Edition

 ‘Staying Ahead—Vision 2020’    

January 19-20, 2018

New Delhi

Come help us build a sense of community, and draw strength from it, across India—and South Asia.

In the third edition of our Responsible Tourism Summit 2018 & the Indian Responsible Tourism Awards, a regional partner of the WTM Responsible Tourism Awards, London, our focus will be wider. Not only will we include best practices from India, but we’ll also highlight the best and the brightest examples from some of our neighbouring countries in South Asia—Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Maldives. The idea, as always, is to gather knowledge and share it widely. To learn from some of the pioneers of sustainability in our region, and better our own business models. To bring real change and counter the forces of climate change and mindless mass tourism models, we ought to find common solutions to common, quintessentially South Asian problems.

  • The Outlook Responsible Tourism Summit is the only platform in India that addresses the socio-economic and environmentally sensitive issues impacting tourism for both private and public stakeholders.
  • Not only do we try to understand and overcome challenges that are India-specific, we also bring in global and now, regional voices, including some of the best-known international experts of responsible tourism, to create a roadmap for the future. We help practitioners map global trends and orient their business models accordingly—to stay relevant and responsible in an ever-changing industry.
  • Our intention is to gather first-hand knowledge on the subject of responsible tourism (challenges and possible solutions) and share it widely through traditional media and digital communication channels.
  • We are also hoping to move towards the mainstreaming of responsible tourism practices by reaching out to and engaging a wide range of travellers through our digital and social media channels throughout the year.
  • We are also trying to empower smaller tour operators and hotel/homestay owners by helping them acquire relevant skill sets.
  • We also celebrate and recognise best practices in India through our Indian Responsible Tourism Awards, chaired by Dr Harold Goodwin, one of the most respected names in the world of responsible tourism. Winners are nominated directly for the WTM Responsible Tourism Awards, London.

Outline Conference Programme 

Staying Ahead: Vision 2020

January 19-20, 2018

New Delhi

Day 1

  • Pre-conference activities
  • Welcome note
  • The big four: Challenges luxury businesses in South Asia must overcome to stay relevant, stay responsible in 2020
  • A success story in sustainable luxury & the road ahead
  • Dinner


Day 2

 Keynote address

  • The Himalayas & responsible tourism: What Nepal, Bhutan, and India can do together
  • 10 minutes, 10 slides: Case studies across South Asia
  • The debate: Can corporate tourists be responsible tourists?
  • Lunch + Networking
  • Focus group discussions
  • Ask the experts: A chance to interact with some of the best minds in the business
  • The Indian Ocean & Responsible Tourism: How can tourism in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh & the Maldives protect and optimise marine resources?
  • The future of heritage: From minor palaces to art deco homes, how can privately-owned built-heritage structures be safeguarded?
  • Indian Responsible Tourism Awards, 2018
  • Dinner

For further information contact


Outlook Publishing India Pvt. Ltd. brings out six titles, including the flagship Outlook India that has been published weekly since 1993. It counts amongst its editors some of India’s most outstanding journalists. The group’s travel publication, Outlook Traveller has for 16-odd years championed slow, green travel in India through stories about new initiatives and inspiring travels.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Outlook South Asia Responsible Tourism Summit 2018

Responsible Tourism Summit – South Asia January 2018

Staying Ahead 

Maintaining competitive advantage through Responsible Tourism sharing experience from across South Asia: Delhi 19-20 January 2018.

2018 will see the third Responsible Tourism Summit in Delhi and the prestigious Responsible Tourism Awards which are presented at the Summit. This year the Awards and the Summit are being extended to include:

Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and the Maldives.

The countries of South Asia share many of the same challenges:

  • Overtourism
  • Impact of climate change and tourism in the Himalayas and the Indian Ocean
  • Reaching out to the right travellers and spreading awareness
  • Cost of conversion to sustainability
  • Dealing with weekday slumps, pricing and policy issues
  • Preservation of built-heritage
  • Encouraging neighbourhood and micro-tourism


Outlook India has decided, therefore, to invite some of the pioneers of sustainability in our region to learn from their experiences, and better our own business models.

To bring real change in the region and counter the forces of climate change and mindless mass tourism models, we ought to find common solutions to common, quintessentially South Asian problems.

Outlook India  has been publishing Outlook Traveller, one of India’s oldest and most successful travel magazines and guides for 17 years. The last three, in particular, have been devoted to identifying, recognising and supporting responsible tourism businesses across India.

For details and to express interest email Soity Banerjee 

The 2017 Summit Report

The 2015 Summit Report 

Posted in Conferences, India | Comments Off on Responsible Tourism Summit – South Asia January 2018

Paul Miedema remembered at WTM Africa

Industry mourns responsible tourism activist

Paul Miedema founder of Calabash Tours and a leading activist for Responsible Tourism was recognised as in the Responsible Tourism Awards in 2004.
In 1990 Paul participated in The March for Hope, a protest March of white people to the townships. “I knew then, and still maintain, there is an energy and spirit in the townships that is life changing. I just want to share that with as many people as possible.”

Paul died earlier this year and his untimely passing and his major contribution to the development of the Responsible Tourism movement globally was remembered and recognised again at the African Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM Africa today.

The category sponsor for Best for Engaging People and Culture, Transfrontier Parks Destinations, dedicated the category to Paul “one of Africa’s most dedicated Responsible Tourism champions.”

Nomandla Xakatha of Coffee Shack Backpackers acknowledged Paul’s contribution to the development of their enterprise in his speech as one of the Overall winners.

He was missed and remembered at WTM Africa this year.

Paul was out peopleandplaces partner and our latest newsletter is a tribute to him.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Paul Miedema remembered at WTM Africa

Africa Responsible Tourism Awards presented at WTM Africa

In a special ceremony at World Travel Market Africa 2017, a hard-hitting documentary on the plight of lions in tourism and a small backpacker lodge with ample impact were announced Joint Overall Winners at the African Responsible Tourism Awards 2017 in Cape Town. Blood Lions and Coffee Shack took the coveted position of Overall Winner from a selection of finalists gathered from around Africa.

Says Harold Goodwin, Chair of the Judging Panel. “All of those longlisted should be recognised as having made a significant contribution and be proud of what they have achieved.  As in the World Responsible Tourism Awards, the judges looked for winners who might educate and inspire others, challenging the industry to achieve more by demonstrating what can be done by businesses and organisations to realise the ambition of Responsible Tourism. That ambition is simply put:  to use tourism to make better places for people to live in. This also benefits the industry: great places to live are great places to visit.

In this International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, the industry needs to recognise that we need to be a lot more transparent about credibly reporting the positive impacts that businesses in the tourism sector have on peoples’ livelihoods and well-being – we need to up our game and prove the claims we make. This year’s global Responsible Tourism Awards will be announced next month – in this International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, there is a particular emphasis on the SDGs.

The judges were mindful of the Awards made in previous years in Africa and in the World Responsible Tourism Awards, of which these African Awards are a part. The Gold and Silver Award winners should be particularly proud of what they have achieved; they have been recognised as being leaders in a Responsible Tourism movement where more is expected each year.

If when reflecting on the winners of these and the World Responsible Tourism Awards you know of others you feel should be recognised then please encourage them to enter, the judges can only choose from amongst those who enter and complete the extensive application process. We encourage them, and other businesses, to continue to take responsibility for increasing the positive and reducing the negative, impacts of tourism; to communicate what they are doing to use tourism to make better places and to consider entering the Responsible Tourism Awards when there is an appropriate category for their business or organisation.”

Speaking before a packed audience of over 100 tourism professionals, media, ministers and officials, Heidi van der Watt, managing director of Better Tourism Africa pinpointed what makes the Award winners the leaders in responsible tourism in Africa:

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 in Africa.”

The Awards were sponsored by the Wesgro. Tim Harris, Chief Executive Officer of Wesgro, said:

“As the proud headline sponsor of the inaugural African Responsible Tourism Awards, Wesgro is delighted to pay tribute to this year’s inspirational winners. As the official Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, we continue to show our commitment to responsible tourism development both in our province and on the African continent.

We are pleased to recognise the vision of the Award winners for providing leadership in their respective sectors throughout Africa, and effectively contributing to growing tourism in a sustainable mannerToday, we celebrate their commitment and achievements.

Read below for the full list of this year’s winners, or log on to to read their stories or watch videos from the Overall Winners.

A photo library of winners images is accessible here.

Overall Winners – Blood Lions and Coffee Shack

supported by Wesgro

overall winners of 2017 african responsible tourism awards, blood lions and coffee shack backpackers

This year there were joint overall winners Blood Lions and Coffee Shack.

The ambition of the Responsible Tourism Awards is to educate, inspire and challenge. The Blood Lions campaign demonstrates how awareness raising and engagement can achieve change, successfully engaging the industry though its “Born To Live Wild” campaign. Coffee Shack demonstrates the major positive impact which a small business in a remote rural area can have.

Best Accommodation for Social Inclusion

supported by Better Tourism Africa
Gold winner: Coffee Shack Backpackers (South Africa)

Contact: David Malherbe I Email: I Twitter@CoffeeShackBP I

Coffee Shack, winner, 2017 African Responsible tourism awards, best accommodation for social inclusion

Judges’ reason for winning:  Coffee Shack Backpackers is a small establishment with a huge heart and a considerable impact on the Tshezi community living in this remote corner of the Eastern Cape. From the first informal project equipping Pato Junior School in 2002 to bringing on board Tshezi Community Trust shareholders in 2005 to the creation of Sustainable Coffee Bay in 2009, the inclusion of the community in a meaningful manner has been part of the story of Coffee Shack Backpackers from the outset.  Today,  Sustainable Coffee Bay runs an Early Childhood Development centre, a high school and tertiary education assistance fund, a project supporting ex-mine workers to access provident funds, and sponsors the local soccer and netball league, to name but a few. Coffee Shack Backpackers pays above the minimum wage, encourages reception staff to travel through a travel bonus scheme, and has invested in two local businesses both of which are run by disabled community members and supply services to the backpackers.  As the saying goes “strong medicine comes in small bottles”.

Silver: The Backpack (South Africa)

Contact: Lee Harris I  Email: Twitter: @thebackpackcpt I

Judges’ reason for winning:  Set at the edge of Cape Town’s city centre and the foot of Table Mountain, the Backpack could quite easily do very well without doing any good.  However, making a difference and creating opportunities for better lives is how the team at the BackPack live and work. The BackPack is commended for the breadth of their approach to fair employment conditions for their staff.  Entry salaries of 2.5x the minimum wage give all staff a solid starting point on which to build higher levels of education, building a home, starting up a small business, all which are financially supported by the business. Emblematic of fairness in its dealings, products in the community gift shop display both the price charged and the amount paid to the producer.  Key deposits, clothing, and time donated by guests are channelled to a bursary scheme and sport (soccer and rope-skipping) project that diverts youth away from gang­sterism and drug- and alcohol-use.  With bio-degradable cleaning products, solar geysers, photovoltaic panels, colour-coded recy­cling bins, a worm farm and a ban on plastic bottles, the BackPack also ticks a multitude of responsible tourism boxes.

Silver: Wilderness Safaris Damaraland Camp (Namibia)

Contact: Tarryn Gibson I Email: I Twitter@WeAreWilderness I

The innovative partnership between Wilderness Safaris and the community of Torra Conservancy was a pioneer within the Namibian context at the time of its creation.  The people of Torra Conservancy community own 40% of Damaraland Camp located in the remote Kunene region of north-west Namibia.   Over and above the financial benefits of the Joint Venture, the people in Torra Conservancy have gained the following: improved planning skills; insights and capacity for collaborative action; improved knowledge of their rights; broader vision for their community; and committee members on the Board are empowered to make decisions and are involved in business management. Community empowerment has led to further expansion of the business with the community raising funding to build the adventure camp.  The value of the partnership and the economic impact of the project is on record through independent academic research.

Best for Engaging People & Culture

supported by Transfrontier Parks Destinations

Gold: Ilha Blue Island Safaris (Mozambique)

Contact: Pete Allsop I Email: I Facebook: Ilha Blue Island Safaris I

ilha blue, winner, 2017 african responsible tourism awards, best for engaging people and culture

The judges wanted to recognise the deep and diverse cultural experiences offered by Ilha Blue on the African World Heritage Ilha de Moçambique. Ilha Blue offers an exotic mix of Makhuwa, Swahili, Arabic, Indian, and Portuguese cultures through low impact small group tours by bicycle, sea-kayak and Swahili sailing dhow. The judges particularly valued the diverse local voices presented by Ilha Blue as an alternative to the colonial narrative, the presentation of local indigenous knowledge, with local guides presenting their perspectives and stories through experiences creating entrepreneurial opportunities and ensuring that local people shape and have a stake in tourism to their place.

Silver: Maboneng Arts (South Africa)

Contact: Siphiwe Ngwenya I Email: I Twitter: @maboneng_arts I

Since 2000 the rapper Siphiwe Ngwenya has been turning township homes into exhibition spaces from Johannesburg to Cape Town, believing that the home is the epicentre of all culture. Maboneng Township Arts Experience’s objective is to turn townships into tourism towns by using the art which already exists in the townships to attract domestic and international visitors. This approach enables visitors to meet locals in their own homes, to experience the wealth of their culture, provides market access for emerging artists and additional household income for artists and the Gallery Homes, celebrates cultural diversity and provides opportunities for cultural integration for hosts and guests.

Best for Habitat & Species Conservation

supported by Cape Nature
Gold: All Out Africa (Swaziland)

Contact: Ginger Green I Email: marketing@alloutafrica I Twitter: @alloutafrica

all out africa, winner, 2017 african responsible tourism awards, best for habitat and species conservation

Judges’ reasons for winning: With references from universities in Swaziland and Florida attesting to All Out Africa’s contribution to both research and education on habitats and species the judges were particularly impressed by All Out Africa’s social-entrepreneur approach to solving the problem of insufficient ecological information and capacity to enable successful conservation. Over the last 12 years All Out Africa has enabled 500 international volunteers to contribute meaningfully to conservation through data collection and supported and trained over 100 local students in field-based conservation and ecological research, With activities in Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa they have supported the education of 15 local students at MSc level and more than 1000 undergraduate students from both local and international universities.

Silver: Wildlife ACT (South Africa)

Contact: Galen Schultz I Email: I Twitter: @wildlifeact I

Judges reasons’ for winning: Both of this year’s winners in this category have demonstrated that volunteering tourists can when professionally managed. As one of Wildlife Act’s referees wrote: “They have set and maintained the highest levels of integrity in an industry that is often characterised by unscrupulous operators that abuse the goodwill and naivety of volunteers.” The judges were impressed by the range of habitat and species conservation work that Wildlife Act had contributed to by working with partners from Ethiopia to South Africa.

Best Partnership for Poverty Reduction

supported by Africa Ignite
Gold winner: Isibindi African Lodges

Contact: Penny Rice I Email: I Twitter: @IsibindiAfrica I

isibindi africa lodges, winner, 2017 african responsible tourism awards, best partnership for poverty reduction

Judges reasons’ for winning: The judges were looking for true partnerships that truly whittle away poverty in local areas. At Isibindi Africa Lodges, partnerships extend way beyond run-of-the-mill charitable giving (although there is plenty of that too). Rental for community-owned land and tourism lodges, employment of local people, purchases of vegetables, crafts, and laundry and recycling services from local small producers, create sustainable income for four communities and hundreds of people in deep rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal.  To widen the spread of the benefits of tourism, Isibindi recently launched a special mechanism ITHUBA (“opportunity”) – a dedicated community engagement programme – to establish greater partnerships with communities and replace individual lodge efforts with a structure that allows resource sharing. Next up, a training facility focussing on lodge hospitality offering internships and a career path at Isibindi lodges for successful graduates.

Silver winner: Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge

Contact:  Richard Ndiga Email: Twitter: @serenahotels

Judges reasons’ for winning:  A partnership with Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge, International Labour Organisation, African Pro-Poor Tourism Development Centre, and Tech for Trade has given a new lease on life for the women of Kimana’s Women’s Group. This group of HIV+ infected and socially affected small scale women farmers has become the main supplier of fresh vegetables and herbs to the lodge. Ownership of their own land, working capital to bridge credit periods and strengthened business skills and quality assurance ensure consistency and quality of supply, and have won the women additional clients. Serena Hotels plan to replicate this supply chain model in Tsavo and Mara Parks, which will expand the empowering benefits of long-run income, food security and improved health and nutrition to more households.

Best Responsible Event

supported by BulkSMS
Gold winner: MTN Bushfire (Swaziland)

Contact: Tamanda Mbendera I  Email: Twitter: @BushFireFest  I

bushfire festival, winner, 2017 african responsible tourism awards, best responsible event

A three-day festival held annually in the scenic Malkerns Valleys of Swaziland attracting 25,000 participants from across the globe (in 2016 from 62 countries) to enjoy and experience a rich texture of arts, cultures, crafts, food markets. Over the last 10 years the festival has grown in international recognition and used its cultural and economic success, the festival creates employment for 1200 Swazis making a significant contribution to the local economy. The festival’s call to action #BRINGYOURFIRE,  has stimulated a personal and collective commitment to social programmes: the Schools Festival (2000 Swazi students and teachers annually), the Arts Round Table (that brings together international and local artists) funding for Young Heroes (an Aids Orphan support programme) and BoMake Rural Projects which benefits rural Swazi women. Bushfire sparked the FireFest Route, which now involves Azgo (Mozambique), Zakifo (Durban, SA) Africa Day (Johannesburg, SA) and Sakifo (Mother festival to Zakifo, held in Reunion Island.)

Silver: Tour de Tuli (Botswana, South Africa & Zimbabwe)

Contact: Tarryn Gibson Email: Twitter: @WeAreWilderness

The Nedbank Tour de Tuli is an annual four day mountain bike tour that takes 350 participants through 250km of protected wilderness in Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa with the primary aim of raising funds for Children in the Wilderness (CITW). The judges recognised the skill and commitment which has created a signature event raising, in 2016, R4 million (US$295 700up from 2015’s total of R2.5 million (US$185 800), largely due to additional sponsorship raised by cyclists, amounting to some R1.5 million (US$110 900). Wilderness Safaris’ CITW is an environmental and life skills educational programme, some of which funds activities in their camps, focused on developing a generation of rural decision makers inspired to conserve wildlife.

Best Responsible Tourism Campaign

supported by Cape Town Pass
Gold: Blood Lions (South Africa)

Contact:  Pippa Hankinson Email:  Twitter: @blood_lions

blood lions, winner, 2017 african responsible tourism awards, best responsible tourism campaign

The judges were looking for a campaign with a clear target, able to report its impact and to demonstrate that it had contributed to making tourism more responsible. From its launch in 2015 there was a clear focus “to stop lions being bred for the bullet.” With a powerful documentary film at the heart of a campaign which used social and traditional media to engage the industry, voluntourism, the public, government (local, national and international), professional hunters and the scientific and conservation community with a simple and compelling message: “THINK before you VISIT, CUDDLE, WALK, VOLUNTEER or SHOOT.” Otherwise, you might unwittingly be contributing to canned hunting. The campaign is able to report with clear metrics on the traction it has gained and the impact it has had.

Silver: there was no Silver in this category

Best Tour Operator for Impact in Urban Areas

supported by Marine Dynamics
Gold winner: Uthando (South Africa)

Contact:  James Fernie Email:  Twitter: @UthandoSouthAfr

uthando, winner, 2017 african responsible tourism awards, best operator for urban impact

Urban community farms and 2 recipe books, educare centres, music and dance academies, domestic animal care, senior centres and a book that tell the stories of elders, arts and crafts hubs – the list of initiatives in Cape Town’s townships touched by UthandoSA is almost endless. UthandoSA’s urban philantrophic tours and partnership with the Belmont Mount Nelson Hotel capture the hearts, imagination and support of guest and the tourism industry, generating funds for a diverse array of projects. In the 2016 / 2017 fiscal year, Uthando is set to exceed R3 million transferred to 45 community projects – a remarkable impact for a tour operator with only 2 permanent employees.

Silver: there was no Silver in this category

Posted in Responsible Tourism Awards | Comments Off on Africa Responsible Tourism Awards presented at WTM Africa
Harold Goodwin