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Best Branded Accommodation – 2015 InSPIRE Awards

El Nido, PhilippinesTen Knots Development Corporation owns and operates the four El Nido Resorts in Northern Palawan, named after the island where they are found: Miniloc, Lagen, Pangulasian in the Municipality of El Nido, and Apulit in the Municipality of Taytay. Bounded by the South China Sea in the west and the Sulu Sea in the east, El Nido and Taytay are small archipelagos in themselves, with close to 100 islands between them. Both Municipalities are areas of high biodiversity such that the Philippine Government was compelled to declare the whole of El Nido and portions of Taytay a Managed-Resource Protected Area in 1998.

In 1982, the first El Nido Resort opened as a dive camp with 16 rooms at Miniloc Island. Over a period of 30 years, it grew from one resort to four, with each resort having no more than 51 rooms. More importantly, the Company has earned its place in history as having put El Nido in the tourism map and, in spite of changes in ownership over the years, has forged a reputation of being at the forefront of responsible tourism in the entire country and beyond. Today, it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ayala Hotels and Resorts Corporation (AHRC). AHRC belongs to the Ayala Group of Companies, one of the largest and oldest conglomerates in the Philippines that has a growing portfolio in the ASEAN region.

Acquired by Ayala in 2010, El Nido Resorts is the first in the conglomerates’ brands that specializes in island resorts. Well-known for good corporate governance and stability, the Ayala brand provides El Nido Resorts a stronger platform on which it could deliver its offerings of sustainable tourism to an even larger international and diverse audience.

El Nido Resorts have been operating within a quadruple bottom line framework of financial growth, environmental stewardship, community engagement, and organizational development. We pioneered green technologies in island resorts, such as sewage treatment plants, desalination plants, nature farming, ecological solid waste management, among others. Hosts to fragile ecosystems, these small islands where our resorts operate cannot be experimented with, and so anything that is introduced should have as minimal ecological footprint as possible.


For more information: El Nido Resorts website

FINALIST – 2015 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards, Best in Community Engagement & Development

IMG_2626-e1440147722754Creating unforgettable learning experiences in the Cambodian provinces of Kratie and Stung Treng, CRDTours works closely with their partner NGO, CRDT (Cambodian Rural Development Team) to create sustainable changes through community-based tourism initiatives, such as rural development and environmental conservation.

Not only does CRDTours give tourists hands-on cultural experiences, such as whipping up local dishes with their host families, attending traditional religious blessings, and participating in on-going development projects identified by the local communities. But they also make sure the local communities don’t become overly dependent on tourism as a livelihood source by limiting the carrying capacity of visitors to Koh P’dao, an island nestled in the mighty Mekong river and home to a number of their tourist programs.

By expanding their community development tours’ projects to include chicken and pig raising and building toilets and rainwater collection systems, CRDTours is able to reach more beneficiaries and maximize long term benefits while also developing non-tourist centric methods of livelihood such as livestock raising, maintaining home gardens, and environmental education.

Mobilizing local communities key to CRDTours’ success. They are trusted by the local community, provide trainings and improve community awareness about issues such as environmental conservation. During village demonstrations, events, and livelihood trainings focused on deforestation and environmental awareness, 60% of beneficiaries were able to raise at least 3 environmental issues, such as illegal fishing and climate change present in their community and offer solutions.

CRDTours actively involves the local  community members, encouraging them to play a role in development and environmental conservation initiatives, which include:

  • Finding alternative livelihoods to slow/stop the depletion of natural resources
  • Raising awareness about the impact of unsustainable natural resources and gradually change the community’s behavior towards the environment
  • Promoting ecotourism as an incentive for community members to stop harming wildlife and take action to protect it

Ecotourism has been an incentive for communities to protect their rare, Irrawaddy dolphin neighbors and make them proud of their community. Over a quarter of the Community Based Ecotourism (CBET) annual development fund was given to the community fishery for river patrolling. By 2013 community beneficiaries stopped using gillnets (which dolphins are known to get caught in) close to the known dolphin pool and reduced their time spent fishing by 45%. Thanks to the complete removal of gillnets in the area, two baby dolphins were born in the Koh P’dao pool earlier this year.

CRDTours website

Seeking Experiential Travel in China: Interview with Mei Zhang, founder of Wild China

Categories: Asia, East, Management, Operations, Private Sector, Recommended Reading, Southeast, Tour Operator
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Mei ZhangAre Travelers Ready for the ‘Real’ China? Mei Zhang, founder of Wild China, explains why she’s counting on a sense of discovery to take travelers beyond the Great Wall and create tourism opportunities in China, Tibet and Myanmar.


Last week was the International Volunteer Day which takes place every year on December 5th.

International Volunteer Day : orphanage tourism

“Children are not tourist attractions”

The growing popularity of international volunteering has led to the trend of orphanage tourism: people take time to volunteer at or visit an orphanage while visiting a foreign country. In Cambodia, a visit to an orphanage would include a short performance or dance routine by the children, accompanied with a request for a small donation to assist with orphanage running costs. Another version is for a tourist to volunteer for a few days at the orphanage. An entire industry has grown out of thousands of tourist visits.

A recent report into Cambodian orphanages has revealed that tourist visits, despite tourists’ best intentions, cause more harm than good. Orphanage tourism, often conducted by shady business operators, does more to harm, rather than help child protection, rights and education standards. In Cambodia, as in much of the developing world, orphanages opened for tourists are a problem, not a solution.

What can you do about it?


Discovering Beaches on Nias Island, Indonesia

Categories: Asia, Planet, Recommended Reading, Sea, Southeast, Water
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Nias Island is a stunning Indonesian island with a few surfer tourists enjoying the scenic beaches, abundant wildlife, and welcoming local population. We interview Sustainable Tourism Advisor Björn Svensson for some interesting insights on this tropical island and talk about his role in advising how to develop sustainable tourism in this pristine location. Peter Berg Schmidt. Read more.


September 18 2015 -Photojournalist Taylor Weidman recently stopped by a graveyard in Bangkok, Thailand.

In the city’s Ramkhamhaeng neighborhood sits a lot peppered with parts from jets and commercial liners. What’s most interesting, however, aren’t the planes, but rather the people who live among the wreckage. Parker Molloy and Taylor Weidman Read more.


October 15 2015 – The government has pitched the idea of developing the organic village scheme in a move to strengthen local communities and farmers.

The scheme, organised through a partnership with the Organic Agriculture Association of Thailand, will launch in five provinces: Chiang Mai, Surin, Lampang, Phetchabun and Nakhon Pathom. PHUSADEE ARUNMAS Read more.


October 6 2015 – Ly Man May is busy plucking a chicken. In the pot it goes, boiled whole, bones intact. In 20 minutes lunch will be served: rice, vegetables, chicken, and of course, homemade rice wine.

For breakfast, however, May made pancakes to suit the Western palate. Esha Chhabra Read more.

As a global hospitality group, Banyan Tree Holdings Ltd.’s sustainability concepts seek to create long-term value for multiple stakeholders in many diverse destinations. With a mission of, “Embracing the Environment, Empowering People,” Banyan Tree works through a three-pillar strategy: enhancing efficiency in environmental operations, conserving natural heritage and biodiversity, and social and economic empowerment of local people in their destinations.



Misool Ecoresort, Indonesia

Categories: Asia, Community, Human Capital Development, People and Places, Residents, Southeast
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Misool Eco Resort (MER), a dive lodge in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, has successfully partnered with local communities in a destination stewardship programme to stop rampant shark finning and destructive fishing practices. In 2005, they secured a long-term lease from local communities, providing local people with much-needed sustainable income, to establish a 425 km2 No Take Zone, expanded in 2010 to cover 1,220 km2 .