National Geographic has unveiled the 15 finalists of the
2017 World Legacy
The National Geographic World Legacy Awards, a
partnership between National Geographic and ITB Berlin, are
designed to showcase
the leading travel and tourism companies, organizations and
destinations — ranging from entire countries to small islands and
from urban hotels to jungle retreats — driving the sustainable
tourism transformation of the global travel industry.
This year’s World Legacy Awards entries spanned
the planet, representing 45 countries and 6 continents.
5 award categories were selected by an international team of
more than 20 judges. A multi-step judging process also included
on-site inspections of each finalist.
Costas Christ, Chairman of National Geographic World Legacy
Awards, said, “We have reached a tipping point as more of the
travel industry understands that there can be no future for
tourism without sustainability, including environmentally-friendly
business practices, protection of cultural and natural heritage,
and tangible social and economic benefits to local people in
travel destinations. Those countries and companies that understand
this today will be the travel leaders of tomorrow. These 15 World Legacy Awards finalists are showing the way forward to a brighter
future for people and the planet.”
2017 National Geographic World Legacy Awards
Conserving the Natural World
Recognizing outstanding support
for the preservation of nature, restoring natural habitat,
protecting rare and endangered species, whether on land or in the
• Mark Thornton Safaris, Tanzania — This
guide-owned outfitter works to protect endangered wildlife habitat
by establishing indigenous community partnerships on the Simanjiro
Grazing Easement of the Maasai Steppe, a critically important
wildlife migration corridor and wildebeest calving ground.
• Misool Eco Resort, Indonesia — Misool actively works to
protect marine habitat, influence policy, and empower local communities. They manage more than 350 square miles of marine
protected area in the heart of the Coral Triangle - the global center of marine biodiversity.
• North Island, Seychelles
— Hailed as the Galapagos of the East, this eco-resort’s innovative
Noah’s Ark project has successfully reintroduced some of the
Seychelles’ rarest species back to nature as part of their
restoration of native habitat on the former plantation island.
Recognizing cutting-edge leadership in
environmentally friendly business practices and green technology,
from renewable energy and water conservation to zero-waste systems
and carbon-emissions reduction.
• Cayuga Collection, Costa
Rica and Nicaragua - Reduce, reuse, recycle is a daily mantra at
this ultra-green hospitality company. Innovative practices include
a program to eliminate plastic waste (even drinking straws are
reusable bamboo) and guests join back-of-the-house tours to learn
how sustainability touches their vacation experience.
Finch Bay Eco Hotel, Ecuador - Finch Bay’s closed-loop sustainable
technology produces organic food for their guests with a
high-yield process that conserves water, eliminates pesticides,
and reduces carbon food miles. Their success is now being replicated by other Galapagos hotels.
• ITC Hotels, India -
Demonstrating that large luxury urban hotels can set a new
standard for going green, ITC’s 11 iconic city properties, spread
across India, are all LEED Platinum certified - the highest level
recognized by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Sense of Place
Recognizing excellence in enhancing cultural
authenticity, including implementing vernacular architecture and
design, support for the protection of historic monuments,
archeological sites, indigenous heritage, and artistic traditions.
• Adventure Canada, Canada - Working closely with indigenous
groups, this small-ship company helps native communities realize their tourism potential while protecting an authentic sense of
place, including opportunities for Inuit youth to gain first-hand experience in archaeology, teaching about their heritage, and
• Awamaki, Peru - Located in the Sacred Valley,
this non-profit rural community tourism organization works to
empower indigenous women artisans and their families to alleviate
poverty, while providing travelers with an experience of authentic
Quechua culture in an immersive, sustainable, and respectful
• City of Santa Fe, USA - If American pioneers
from more than a century ago re-appeared in Santa Fe’s plaza
today, they would recognize it instantly. The oldest state capital
in America considers safeguarding its rich heritage a duty,
including Fiesta de Santa Fe, the nation’s oldest continuous
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
• Andaman Discoveries, Thailand - Established in
response to the 2004 tsunami, Andaman Discoveries immerses guests
in the cultural and natural diversity of Thailand. All initiatives
are local community-led: villagers decide a fair cost for their
tourism services and 50% of profits support a foundation
for community development.
• Lodge at Chaa Creek, Belize -
Belize’s pioneer eco-resort demonstrates that putting local people
first benefits employees, villages, 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.
• Chambok Community Based Eco
Tourism/Mlup Baitong, Cambodia - When non-profit group Mlup
Baitong began, Chambok villagers were faced with unrelenting
poverty, resorting to illegal logging and wildlife poaching to
survive. Today, this self-sustaining ecotourism project
contributes 20% of its profits to a local fund supporting
women’s micro-enterprise initiatives and community health care.
stewardship, including cities, provinces, states, countries, and
regions that are demonstrating environmental best practices,
protection for cultural and natural heritage, benefits to local
people, and educating travelers on the principles of sustainable
• Riverwind Foundation/Jackson Hole Chamber of
Commerce, USA - Working together, these two organizations actively
engage public and private stakeholders to support environmental
stewardship, social responsibility, and economic vitality through
destination stewardship policies and planning, including an open
space resolution ensuring protection of 25,000 acres, and a Sustainability Code of Conduct for visitors.
Retreat, Kenya - This high-end ecolodge in Laikipia acts as an
incubator for innovative technologies and conservation approaches
that can be tested, refined, and replicated in Africa and beyond,
including successful projects to enhance local livelihoods,
support health care, protect endangered species and restore
• Slovenian Tourist Board, Slovenia - With
nearly 60% of its land forested, 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
Rika Jean-François, CSR Commissioner for ITB
Berlin: “The World Legacy Awards, which are about to be held for
the third time, have established themselves as highly prestigious
for the global travel industry. The finalists will be introduced
on ITB Wednesday to a truly international audience and the winners
will be announced on the spot. We are also happy to invite the
finalists to present their innovative solutions to an
international audience at our renown CSR Day on ITB Friday. ITB
Berlin is strongly heightening awareness of the important issue of
sustainability and responsibility in tourism and has also recently
become a member of GSTC, the Global Criteria for Sustainable
The winners will be announced live on stage at
the World Legacy Awards ceremony on 8 March 2017 held at the Palais am Funkturm during ITB Berlin. Winners and Finalists will
also be recognized by National Geographic Traveler magazine.
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