Queen Noor of Jordan presented the 2004 World Legacy Awards in sustainable tourism Tuesday evening, June 8, at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Four different awards went to businesses and organizations from around the world that were judged to best exemplify ways to protect the environment and culture of a place, while creating commerce for the local community. Eight runners-up were also honored.
The awards are a joint effort by National Geographic Traveler magazine and Conservation International. The program aims to increase awareness of sustainable tourism's benefits and to recognize those who practice it well.
"We want to reward the people who are doing trailblazing work in forging mutually beneficial relationships between tourism and the destinations on which tourism depends," said Jonathan Tourtellot, geotourism editor at National Geographic Traveler and co-creator of the World Legacy Awards.
Tourtellot added, "We want to put a spotlight on these awardees not only because they deserve it, but because we hope others will emulate them."
In the Tuesday ceremony, winners were announced in each of four categories: Nature Travel, Heritage Tourism, General Purpose Hotels and Resorts, and Destination Stewardship.
This year's winners come from the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Barbados, and Indonesia. Applicants from more than 40 countries sought the 2004 World Legacy Awards.
Three applicants were chosen as finalists in each category. The 12 finalists were then inspected on-site, a unique feature of the World Legacy program. Reports from on-site inspectors were sent to a panel of judges, who selected the winners:
Al Maha Desert Resort in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, won this year's Nature Travel award.
"We started this project seven years ago and have now brought a luxurious facility into the desert to help people understand their environment," said Al Maha vice president Tony Williams.
The resort has helped repopulate its surrounding desert ecosystem with native animals and flora and has helped reintroduce two endangered species of oryx, an Arabian gazelle.
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