Lemon Tree Hotels, India and Tren Ecuador have been announced as the joint-overall winners of the 2016 World Responsible Tourism Award 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 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, an eminent collection of responsible tourism leaders from across the industry, NGOs and public organisations, Professor Harold Goodwin, Chair of Judges 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.
Karen Bevans, Director of Tourism for the Awards headline sponsor, the Belize Tourism Board commented:
“The Belize Tourism Board has always valued and embraced the principles and pillars of responsible travel so it’s a real privilege to support and congratulate all the winners of this year’s awards. The opportunity to sponsor the awards has provided an important platform to highlight the importance of responsible travel globally and also to showcase Belize’s commitment to developing tourism in a way which reflects these principles. We hope that not only will the finalists inspire businesses in Belize to follow their example, but that they will help drive positive change in tourism globally.”
The potential these businesses have to inspire change is not lost on Justin Francis, founder of the Awards and CEO of organisers Responsible Travel.
Lemon Tree Hotels & Tren Ecuador show clearly how big corporations can adopt responsible tourism as a core part of their business
“When I founded these awards in 2004 it was the aim to highlight what is possible to achieve through responsible tourism and hold the winners up as examples to be replicated by the wider tourism industry. 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. These businesses move a more responsible style of tourism into the mainstream. They are the future of tourism”.
Commenting on the calibre of the winners, Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director for World Travel Market London and Awards judge says: “The standard of entries into this year’s World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM London has been of a phenomenally high standard. As we celebrate ten years of World Responsible Tourism Day at WTM London, the joint winners perfectly demonstrate the type of projects WRTD is looking to highlight and encourage. Both winners put the local communities at the heart of what they are looking to deliver.”
Full details of the 2016 Gold & Silver Winners can be found on the Awards website at