Four Asian endeavours reach Nat GEO finals

BERLIN, 10 March 2017: Five winners of the 2017 National Geographic World Legacy Awards were announced Thursday during an awards ceremony held at the Palais am Funkturm, the new official awards venue of ITB Berlin.

For the first time four of the 15 finalists that reached the awards stage at ITB Berlin, this year, were from Asia.

It indicates a growing recognition in Asia that tourism must abide by sustainable tourism principles and be part of the solution to save the environment.

Thailand’s Andaman Discovery a community project in South Thailand was a finalist in the Engaging Communities category.

Cambodia’s Chambok Community-based eco tourism in Baitong was also a finalist in the same category.

India’s ITC Hotel group was named a finalist in the Earth Changers category and Misool in Indonesia in the Conserving the Natural World category.

The World Legacy Awards, a partnership between National Geographic and ITB Berlin, recognises leading travel and tourism companies, organisations and destinations. They  honour those who are driving sustainable tourism transformation of the global travel industry.

More than 100 entries, representing 45 countries across six continents, were submitted for these prestigious travel awards.

They were whittled down to 15 finalists by an international panel of 26 judges led by Costas Christ, an internationally recognised sustainable tourism expert and award-winning National Geographic travel writer.

The judges scored each entry according to globally recognised sustainable tourism criteria. All 15 finalists underwent a rigorous on-site inspection.

Judging-panel leader Chosta Christ said: “Sustainable tourism development is crucial for the future of travel …  The travel and tourism industry is based on promoting and selling culture and nature holiday experiences and as such, needs to take a bigger role in protecting the very resources that their business.”

National Geographic famed for its exploration, conservation efforts and storytelling established the World Legacy Awards to celebrate the people, places and experiences that exemplify a mission in the global travel industry.

The 2017 National Geographic World Legacy Awards winners and finalists were:

Earth Changers — recognising cutting-edge leadership in environmentally friendly business practices and green technology, from renewable energy and water conservation to zero-waste systems and carbon-emission reduction.


Cayuga Collection, Costa Rica and Nicaragua — This innovative hotel collection combines state-of-the art sustainability with experiential travel at eight properties in Central America. Reduction and monitoring of energy, water, waste, composting, recycling, and other earth-friendly initiatives inspire staff and guests to make green practices part of their own lives. Innovative practices also include eliminating plastic waste (at Cayuga, even drinking straws are reusable bamboo), and guests join popular behind-the-scene tours to learn how sustainability directly touches their vacation experience.


  • Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, Ecuador
  • ITC Hotels, India

Sense of Place — recognising excellence in enhancing sense of place and authenticity, including support for the protection of historical monuments, archaeological sites, cultural events, indigenous heritage and artistic traditions.


City of Santa Fe, New Mexico, US — If American pioneers from more than a century ago were to visit Santa Fe’s central plaza today, they would recognise it instantly. The oldest state capital in America considers safeguarding its rich heritage a duty and a passion. The historic downtown and surrounding area protect archaeological sites and cultural authenticity, including the Santa Fe Indian Market, now almost 100 years old and still going strong. Santa Fe’s annual festivals and events place Native American, Spanish, and Anglo heritage front and centre, while strong sustainability initiatives also bring the past into the future.


  • Adventure Canada, Canada
  • Awamaki, Peru

Conserving the Natural World — Recognising outstanding support for the preservation of nature, restoring natural habitat and protecting rare and endangered species, whether on land or in the oceans.


North Island, Seychelles — With the Seychelles Islands known as the Galapagos of the East, this luxury eco-resort’s innovative Noah’s Ark project has successfully reintroduced some of the Seychelles’ rarest and most endangered species back to nature as part of their restoration of native habitat on the former plantation island. Biologists on site monitor all aspects of the island’s ecology, contributing to greater global understanding of migration patterns, sea temperatures, and the impacts of climate change in one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.


  • Mark Thornton Safaris, Tanzania
  • Misool, Indonesia

Engaging Communities — recognising direct and tangible economic and social benefits that improve local livelihoods, including training and capacity building, fair wages and benefits, community development, health care and education.


The Lodge at Chaa Creek, Belize — Belize’s pioneer jungle lodge demonstrates that putting local people first benefits employees, villagers, and its own bottom line. The Lodge provides economic benefits to community projects across the nation, directing 10% of all room revenue to support social and environmental programs. They offer annual training and workshops to promote career development, and sponsor an Environmental Outreach Program, a free Eco-Kids summer camp, and scholarships and internships for local students.


  • Andaman Discoveries, Thailand
  • Chambok Community Based Eco-Tourism/Mlup Baitong, Cambodia

Destination Leadership — recognising destination leadership, including cities, provinces, states, countries and regions that are demonstrating environmental best practices, protection of cultural and natural heritage, benefits to local communities and educating travellers on the principles of sustainability.


Slovenian Tourist Board, Slovenia — with nearly 60% of its land protected, the country of Slovenia has successfully laid the foundation to become one of the world’s most sustainable destinations. The Tourist Board unifies all stewardship initiatives through its Green Scheme, which sets guidelines and provides tools for monitoring sustainability progress, instilling a culture of continual improvement in the country’s tourism efforts based upon benefiting local communities, protecting cultural heritage and saving nature, including revitalising rural areas and creating authentic travel experiences for visitors.


  • The Riverwind Foundation/Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, Wyoming, US
  • Segera Retreat, Kenya

The sponsors of the World Legacy Awards are Adventure World and TreadRight Foundation. To learn more about the sponsors, visit and

For more information on the World Legacy Awards, including the full list of 2017 finalists and interviews, go to