Al Maha provides a water-recycling program and heats much of its water with solar energy. The resort respects the local desert and culture, with a design based on a traditional Bedouin camp, with rooms of canvas and stone.
The two runners-up in the Nature Travel category were the following:
Kwande Private Game Reserve of South Africa, which includes historical and archeological tours
Chumbe Island Coral Park in Tanzania, a resort that serves local cuisine and protects marine wildlife
Anangu Tours of the Northern Territory, Australia, won this year's Heritage Tourism award. The tour company's Aboriginal guides give tours in their own language, with interpretation by other staff members.
Owned by local Aboriginal people, Anangu Tours provides a cultural learning experience in the area of Uluru (Ayer's Rock). There, guides explain tjukurpa, the Aboriginal body of traditions; laws; and economic, ecological, and religious rules for living.
All eyes were on Richard Kulitja, an unassuming Aboriginal guide, as he took the stage. In his native tongue (interpreted into English by another Anangu staffer), Kulitja spoke of the Anangu people: "Winning this award makes us feel stronger." Asked later why tours are not in English, he explained that for his people, language is an essential matter of cultural pride.
The tour company contributes profits to local recreation and education facilities and helped establish the first Aboriginal secondary college in the area.
The two runners-up in the Heritage Tourism category were the following:
Campi ya Kanzi in Kenya's Maasai Mara, a joint venture with local Maasai dedicated to sustaining wildlife and Maasai cultural heritage
Moki Treks of Utah, whose Indian guides provide their own perspectives on Native American culture, customs, and natural resources
Hotels and Resorts
The Casuarina Beach Club in Barbados won this year's Hotels and Resorts award. No two rooms are decorated alike in the resort, which supports local artisans and educates its guests about how to conserve the local environment. Or as one manager put it, "Reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink!"
Rare among Caribbean resorts, Casuarina offers guests a nine-acre (TK-hectare) wooded retreat. "When the owners originally built the property in 1981," said environmental manager Loreto Duffy-Mayers, "a lot of people thought they were totally crazy because they built in what was called the Dover Woods. Now we have a virtual garden of Eden."
The resort also involves itself in community activities, with the result that guests might even be invited to play cricket with the locals, a rare occurrence at other Caribbean beach resorts.
The two runners-up in the Hotels and Resorts category were as follows:
Turtle Island in Fiji, which helps sustain the environment, language, and traditions of local Yassawa islanders
Voyages Hotels and Resorts in Australia, which offers adventures into local rain forests, seas, deserts, and flood lands, while helping Aboriginal communities develop their own tour businesses
Winner of this year's Destination Stewardship award is the Gunung Rinjani National Park area on the island of Lombok, Indonesia (just east of Bali), and the Rinjani Trek Management Boarda park, business, and community partnership.
"The Board increases the awareness of the local people," stated Chairman Tjokorda Suthendra Rai, "and from the many activities on Rinjani the people also increase their prosperity."
Rinjani is a forested volcano where 200 villagers work as trek guides and porters. Rinjani's "cleanup patrol" program is one example of the park-community partnership.
Revenue from Rinjani tourism and entry fees is used for conservation, training, and management of the Rinjani Trek, which promotes cultural and historical pride and preservation of the island's environment.
The two runners-up in the Destination Stewardship category were the following:
England's Jurassic Coast, whose community visitor centers educate tourists about the ancient fossils and marine wildlife of this UN World Heritage site in Dorset and Devonshire
The Moosalamoo region of Vermont, where residents work with the Green Mountain National Forest to promote tourism and local heritage awareness while pursuing such conservation efforts as volunteer-maintained bird habitats and a program for inns to purchase local farm produce
Changing Tourism's Outlook
Project organizers say the winners and finalists of the World Legacy Awards play a key role in changing the current outlook on tourism.
As Costas Christ, senior director of ecotourism for Conservation International, explained, "In some countries, tourism has grown by as much as 2,000 percent over the past decade. Their rapidly depleting natural resource base will hurt them greatly in the long term. These winners are outstanding examples of responsible tourism that both helps to protect nature and promotes the well-being of local people."
For information about the World Legacy Awards, visit www.wlawards.org.
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