The World Responsible Tourism Award for 2019 overall winner is an ecolodge travellers wish to stay in, in Jordan! The World Responsible Tourism Awards, which began in the year 2004 are held at the World Tourism Market (WTM) in London every year.
(Click here to read more about the award).
Responsible tourism is gaining an ever increasing amount of international attention. The focus of this award is regarding the fulfilling of social responsibility for the environment and community. As the interest in environmentally friendly practices and sustainability in the tourism industry grows year by year, the amount of responsible tourism options at global destinations is also rising every year. Transparency is an important word in Responsible Tourism. Transparency, in this case regarding the why’s and how’s of the tourism business. Particularly, how they are tackling the challenge of sustainability, what specific measures are being taken, and what impact it will have as a result.
For those interested in eco-friendly travel, one wants to choose hotels and tours that are environmentally friendly and fulfill a level of social responsibility.
Let’s take a look at some of the best sustainable companies from around the world, this time the overall winners of 2019, to guide you when planning your own sustainable journey!
2019 Overall Win: Feynan Ecolodge (Jordan)
The Feynan area of Jordan and its surroundings are areas where four Bedoin tribes,also known as the “desert dwellers” live. This area is also of archeological significance as Neolithic sites abound. Feynan Ecolodge is located southwest of the Dana Biosphere Reserve and was built by the Royal Society for Conservation of Nature (RSCN). After 30 years of mining copper in the area, the Feynan Ecolodge provides the local Bedouin community with an opportunity to replace the copper mine with the option for sustainable economic benefits.
Feynan Ecolodge previously won an award in the category of “Positive Impact on Communities” and was also highly rated in the 2011 Responsible Tourism Awards “Poverty Reduction” category. Feynan Ecolodge is known for its positive social and economic impact on the local community, including the hiring of local residents and the use of locally produced products, as well as its high quality local Bedouin cultural experience. Due to this, it has been recognised by other companies in the tourism industry as a “model to aim for” for more than 10 years.
Finally, in 2019, Feynan Ecolodge was selected as the overall winner, praising the quality of its efforts to further reduce carbon dioxide emissions and for transparent reporting of its reduced impact.
Feynan Ecolodge has made a clear statement of and provided the original data and sources used to quantify the environmental impact of its efforts, and has reduced its annual carbon emissions by 11.13 tonnes.
Environmentally friendly operation
Feynan Ecolodge is committed to minimising environmental impact wherever possible.
Feynan uses solar power and is able to generate 100% of its own power while not being on the power grid. Since electric wires do not reach the Feynan Ecolodge, solar panels or PhotoVoltaic (PV) panels installed on the roof are used to generate electricity on their own and store it in the batteries. In order to use the stored energy efficiently, only energy-efficient products which are absolutely necessary, are used. In addition, low energy LED bulbs are used for lighting only in kitchens, washrooms and offices. Electric appliances such as kitchen refrigerators are certified by Energy Star (American rating) or A / A + (EU rating). The laundry is air dried, further reducing the need for energy-consuming dryers. As a result, daily power usage is limited to 16-18 KW/hour.
Solar heating: A large solar heating, and rather extensive system is installed to heat the water, providing all the hot water needed for the kitchen, guests and washing machines.
Heating: The Feynan area is so warm that it really only needs to be heated for a short period of the year. Each winter, averaging about 60-90 days and only during the nights, Feynan Ecolodge has incorporated a sustainable way to not only generate heating, but also to dispose of waste from the olive presses. This olive press waste or olive pit charcoal is burned in the lodge’s two fireplaces to provide the heating. The waste used at this time is a renewable resource that is a natural by-product of Jordan’s olive harvest, and is used as a sustainable energy source.
Limited water consumption: As Jordan is one of the world’s most water-depleted countries, water usage regulation or restriction is utilised. The lodge procures water from a local spring. The use of water in the kitchen is tightly controlled and water from the faucet in each room is also restricted.
Composting: To minimize waste and further utilise resources, the lodge has a composting facility which converts excess raw food and other waste into organic fertilizer. This not only contributes by creating healthy soil, but also works to eliminate food waste.
Recycling: The lodge uses minimal paper and plastic items. Most waste is recycled and recycling bins are placed conveniently around the ecolodge for the guests convenience.
Reduction of single-use plastic: The lodge restricts plastic use by utilising methods such as providing water to customers in a locally produced clay pot and offering reusable water bottles for trekking and excursions with a free water station to refill the bottles at the ecolodge. By using these methods, Feynan has drastically reduced the annual usage of single-use disposable PET bottles.
Utilization of revenue for conservation activities
In addition, the proceeds from the staying guests are used for additional conservation activities within the protected area.
Contributing to local communities
Employ locals: The staff employed at Feynan Ecolodge are all members of the local community. Working with a local staff creates a unique “real” atmosphere in the lodge, which also generates the income needed in the local community.
Working with local communities to provide services: In addition to hiring directly from the local community, services are also procured from the local community in order to provide a supplemental income to the local populace.
- Local drivers provide shuttle service to and from the lodge. The fees paid by the guests for shuttle service are transferred to the local drivers. This action alone benefits more than 45 families of the local Bedouin community.
- Most of the food is sourced locally from the nearby villages.
- The food provided by the lodge is baked by a local Bedouin woman.
- All candles and leather furniture used at the lodge were purchased at the lodge’s workshop on leather goods and candles.
- The lodge shop displays and sells crafts and artwork made by many artisans in the local community of the nature reserve as well.
- A cultural experience program is being introduced, where one is able to experience the traditional Bedouin lifestyles and to provide further financial benefit to the local community. The participation fees are paid directly to the local family hosting the experience.
- One example of local sourcing is that the clay water bottles used in the lodge as a replacement for plastic bottles is purchased from a women’s co-op near Petra where the local women make pottery to earn money.
- More than 80% of the food and additional supplies are purchased within a 40 km radius of the lodge.
Feynan Ecolodge directly benefits about 80 local families, totalling approximately 400 people. It is a pleasant surprise that there are so many initiatives like this in the world!
To work to protect the environment, return profits to local communities, to communicate the content and impact of efforts in a transparent manner takes diligence and hard work and is worthy of this award. In order for these activities to become more commonplace globally, sustainability-minded travellers can exhibit by their purchasing decisions, that this is what people want more of.
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