Conservation International and National Geographic Traveler Announce the "World Legacy Awards"

3/25/2002

New Awards Recognize Environmentally and SociallyResponsible Travel

Washington, DC – Conservation International and National Geographic Traveler magazine announced today the creation of the"World Legacy Awards." These awards will recognize outstanding businesses, organizations, and places that have made a significant contribution toward promoting the principles of sustainable tourism, and whose actions can serve as a role model for others. These standards include the conservation of nature, economic benefit to local peoples, and respect for cultural diversity.

The newly-formed alliance between National Geographic Traveler magazine and Conservation International launches a global campaign to promote environmentally, culturally, and socially responsible tourism practices across a wider spectrum of the tourism industry, with the goal of protecting Earth's natural and cultural heritage.

"Too often, tourist resorts and destinations have focused on short-term gain with little regard for the environment or the people who live there — often the very things that attracted visitors in the first place," said Costas Christ, Senior Director of Conservation International's ecotourism department. "With the creation of the World Legacy Awards, we intend to raise the bar and encourage more businesses, organizations, and destinations to incorporate sound environmental and social policies into their practices."

With the United Nations declaration of 2002 as the International Year of Ecotourism, more attention is being focused on how the tourism industry can play a more positive role in the protection of nature and the well being of local people.

"Tourists are looking for experiences that are rewarding and memorable, but the tourism industry can only be sustainable if the natural and cultural assets of the destination are protected, and if local people receive economic and social benefit from tourism activities," said Jonathan Tourtellot, Geotourism Editor of National Geographic Traveler magazine. "By placing a value on a locale's natural, historic, and cultural attributes, we provide an incentive to protect them. This partnership ensures that future generations may enjoy the same attributes present today."

Winners will be chosen in three categories:

  • Nature Travel: This award honors a business, organization, or attraction making a positive contribution to the conservation of natural areas and biodiversity. Eligible nominees include eco-lodges, ecotourism operators, and community or privately owned nature reserves whose existence through tourism revenue helps ensure protection for wilderness areas, marine environments, and rare and endangered species.

  • Heritage Tourism: This category recognizes a business, organization, or attraction making a positive contribution to cultural heritage and diversity. Community-based tourism projects, preservation of archeological sites, and activities that revive and enrich cultural traditions are eligible for the award.

  • Destination Stewardship: This award recognizes a business, organization, local community or even regional government protecting the natural and cultural heritage of a destination. Eligible nominees include marine environments, wilderness areas, a unique province, or a region of a country rich in nature and cultural traditions committed to the highest standards in embracing the principles of responsible tourism.

Nominees will be evaluated based on the contribution a project or overall destination makes to nature conservation and cultural heritage; generation of local economic benefit; promotion of these principles through education and awareness; and success in providing enriching, authentic travel experiences. They will be expected to show that their organization or destination achieves a significant and measurable positive impact on the surrounding ecosystem, the local culture, and the region as a whole.

Winners will be announced on national television and honored at a gala awards ceremony. They will also be featured in National Geographic Traveler magazine, as well as the websites of CI's Ecotravel Center and National Geographic Traveler. The awards will attract international attention with the assistance of National Geographic Society's reach through its expeditions, television, books, maps, and foreign editions.

In its April issue, National Geographic Traveler will announce the partnership and the creation of the new award to its four million international readers.

To learn more about the World Legacy Awards, visit www.wlaward.org and www.ecotour.org. Or, send an email to worldlegacy@conservation.org. You may also write to:
World Legacy Awards
Conservation International
1919 M Street, NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036, USA.

Deadline for applications is July 15, 2002.

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National Geographic Traveler reports on destinations of distinction and character, and strives to keep them that way. NGT urges communities and travel businesses to adopt policies that prevent over-commercialization, and support enterprises that sustain and enhance a "sense of place," in the belief that patronizing them will benefit both travelers and the destinations they visit. As the flagship travel magazine of the National Geographic Society, NGT brings to bear the authority gained by over a century of Society-sponsored research and exploration.

Conservation International (CI) was founded in 1987 to conserve Earth's living natural heritage, our global biodiversity, and to demonstrate that human societies are able to live harmoniously with nature. CI, a field-based organization headquartered in Washington, DC works in more than 30 countries on four continents, drawing upon a unique array of scientific, economic, awareness building and policy tools to help people find economic alternatives without harming their natural environments. CI's focus is on places where the most species can be protected — the hotspots, tropical wilderness areas and key marine ecosystems. CI employs more than 1,000 employees worldwide, most of whom are residents of the countries in which they work.

Link to the award site: www.wlaward.org.

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