Lemon Tree Hotels, India and Tren Ecuador have been announced as the joint-overall winners of the 2016 World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM London sponsored by Belize in a special ceremony held during World Responsible Tourism Day at WTM in London.
Chosen from 13 worldwide finalists in five categories, the judges were unable to split the two overall-winners, commending both on the extent of the impacts they have had and their powerful potential to inspire real change within the tourism industry.
The third largest hotel chain in India, and the fastest-growing, Lemon Tree Hotels caught the judges’ attention in the ‘Best Accommodation for Responsible Employment’ category with their core programme to give opportunity-deprived Indians (those with a variety of physical and intellectual disabilities, and those from socially-excluded groups) a route into employment. Tren Ecuador, which also took the Gold in the ‘Best for Poverty Reduction & Inclusion’ category, impressed for reversing the traditional approach of heritage and luxury train travel (a model where the guests remain cocooned on the train, isolated from the places they pass through) and instead creating shared value with local enterprises, creating 5000 livelihoods for local people in communities along the tracks.
Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, Professor Harold Goodwin, Chair of Judges and organiser of WTM’s Responsible Tourism programme said:
“Lemon Tree Hotels are recognised for tackling, effectively, a major social problem in so many societies. A large corporate business backed by international investors successfully getting disabled and other opportunity-deprived people into the workforce in tourism and making this a core part of their operations is a powerful statement.
“The judges hold Tren Ecuador up as an outstanding, holistic example of how all tours should be designed, and feel that if all tourism was planned in this way it would be very effective at making better places in which to live, as well as better places to visit.”
Justin Francis, founder of the Awards and CEO of organisers Responsible Travel said the two companies were an example of the potential of big businesses to effect change and commit to scaling responsible tourism. “Lemon Tree Hotels & Tren Ecuador show clearly how big corporations can adopt responsible tourism as a core part of their business, be commercially successful and deliver significant benefits for local communities,” he said. “These businesses move a more responsible style of tourism into the mainstream. They are the future of tourism”.
See the full list of the gold and silver winners of the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2016.