For the second time the National Geographic World Legacy Awards were presented at ITB Berlin. An international committee of 23 experts led by Costas Christ, editor-at-large of the National Geographic Traveler Magazine and chairman of the World Legacy Awards, picked 15 finalists from over 100 entries representing more than 50 countries. The awards went to travel and tourism companies as well as organisations and destinations that have made a commitment to sustainable tourism. They include big resorts, small eco-lodges, wildlife reserves and geoparks. “The winning entries of the World Legacy Awards show how best practices in tourism can help to enduringly protect the best destinations around the world for future generations“, said George Stone, National Geographic Travel editor-in-chief, introducing the five winners representing five categories at the ITB Berlin Convention.
In the category ’Earth Changers’ – ecologically responsible companies featuring green technology such as renewable energies and zero-waste systems – the winner was Mission Hills from China. They are one of China’s first resorts to have banned shark fins from the dinner menu, introduced solar-powered golf carts, manual removal of garden weeds, as well as a solar-powered pest control system at the Mission Hills Haikou golf course.
’Sense of Place’ is the name of the category which recognises tourism companies pledging to protect historical monuments, archaeological sites and local cultural heritage. The winner was TIME Unlimited Tours, a New Zealand company run by Maoris that operates eco-tourism and environmentally friendly tours of the country.
The category ’Conserving the Natural World’ recognises companies that conserve nature, restore natural habitats and protect rare and endangered land and marine species.
The winner was Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda from Mexico. This NGO was involved in creating and maintaining the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, an area in the heart of Mexico that is rich in bio-diversity.
The winner in the category ’Engaging Communities’ was the Bushcamp Company, Zambia. In close cooperation with local groups Bushcamp supports projects in the Luangwa region. Initiatives include protecting resources for wildlife and promoting education and healthcare.
In the category ’Destination Leadership’ the winner was Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark in Ireland. This project was conceived by a group of local companies, villagers and municipal authorities. Their aim is to protect Ireland’s most beautiful natural landscapes and ensure a quality experience for visitors.