ITC Mughal, Agra wins Wild Asia award

News, Press Releases

At the recently held Wild Asia Tourism Awards, ITC-Welcomgroup’s Aga Khan Award winner, ITC Mughal Agra, was voted the winner amongst hotels in the ‘Large Accommodation Category’. The hotel was competing against some of the most famous names in the hospitality industry, including The Six Senses, Shangrila, Intercontinental and others. On October 28, 2009.

The Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Award were held in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia and collected by Reza Azami of Wild Asia,on behalf of ITC Mughal. In a message to ITC Mughal’s general manager, Kuldeep Bhartee, Deborah Chan, the commercial & business strategy manager of Wild Asia wrote, "Yes – it is time to celebrate! You are the winner for the Large Accommodation Operator’s Category! On behalf of Wild Asia, I would like to personally CONGRATULATE you and your passionate fleet of staff ITC Mughal for all your hard work and undeterred commitment in making a difference to the lives of people and places around you." We have great pleasure in forwarding the original Press Release received from Wild Asia – the organisers of one of the most important awards for responsible tourism. ITC Mughal at Agra was the winner this year in the large accommodation category.

ITC Mughal the winner of the first Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1980, is spread across a 35 acre expanse and follows the CRS practices of its Parent Company, ITC Ltd. This year the hotel was selected amongst many other well-known and famous international brands. The hotel in recent years won a number of international awards for its spa – Kaya Kalp – The Royal Spa – reputed to be the largest spa in Asia.Three out of eight finalists from six different Asian countries participating in Wild Asia’s 4 th Responsible Tourism Awards emerged as winners, proving that sustainable destinations can be made a reality within the travel industry.

Established in 2006, the Awards is the first of its kind in Asia and is held annually, aimed at recognising accommodation providers in Asia that are making a difference. Dr. Reza Azmi, founder and director of Wild Asia shares the need for sustainable tourism as it is something very close to heart having dealt with many environmental and social issues over the years. He adds, "Seeing how crucial the impact of tourism was on natural areas in Asia, as early as 1998, Wild Asia started to understand what it was that made a good tourism operator. An operator we could confidently label "eco" or "responsible".

Today, after more than a decade of thought and dialog with tourism operators, we now believe that we need to move away from simply ticking off "green" practices. What we now look for are operators that we can trust; have the best of intentions; that can demonstrate they understand their local issues and have people in place that can sustain their efforts." Operators such as ITC Mughal (Agra, India), El Nido Resorts (Palawan, Philippines), and Sunderbans Jungle Camp (Bali Island, India) have surpassed judges’ expectations by scoring high against the Awards checklist and are this year’s award winners for the following categories of accommodation operators respectively – large; mid-sized to small; and community-based to homestay.

Through self-evaluation checklist submissions and site verification visits by judges and fact-finders to all finalists’ destinations, the winners have demonstrated their strong abilities to meet the Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Award checklist’s forty criteria, which comprehensively cover aspects of local employment and economies; respecting local laws, cultures and sensitivities; responsibilities towards employees and communities; recognising the children’s rights; and protecting the environment through a suite of conservation initiatives, efficient use of resources, as well as responsible waste management. Moving beyond checklists, these operators are fully supported by owners and top management to internalise the elements of responsible tourism and have resources in place to ensure it remains a sound business strategy for economic development. Trusted by their stakeholders whom they actively engage, they are also able to communicate their best intentions to operate responsibly and can therefore make a real difference where they do business. Never to settle for business-as-usual, these operators are committed to improving the way they do things, i.e. from raising awareness to learning and capacity building; periodic monitoring of performance objectives and seeking innovative solutions for continued improvement; and building partnerships with like-minded organisations to develop holistic strategies in meeting the requirements of responsible tourism.

Mariglo Laririt, resident Biologist and Environmental Manager of El Nido Resorts understands the need for continuous improvement in the midst of celebrating successes. "We feel affirmed and this (winning the awards) spurs us on for ways to improve ourselves. We share this achievement with our partners at El Nido." Understanding and internalising the essence of responsible tourism, these operators are catalysts for positive change within their sphere of influence, inspiring others to embark on the green journey while at the same time, still affording customers with the memorable holiday experience the travel for in the first place. Wild Asia would like to congratulate winners and finalists for their commendable efforts and commitment in achieving high standards of environmental protection and social responsibility that form the critical pillars of their business philosophy.

Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Award 2009 winners: Large Accommodation Operators ITC Mughal, Agra, India Mid-sized to Small Accommodation Operators El Nido Resorts, Miniloc, Philippines Community-Based to Homestay Operators Sunderbans Jungle Camp, Bali Island, India Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Award 2009 finalists: Large Accommodation Operators Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia Mid-sized to Small Accommodation Operators Soneva Fushi, Kunfunadhoo, Maldives Nikoi Island, Bintan, Indonesia Community-Based to Homestay Operators Andaman Discoveries, Phang Nga Province, Thailand Lamai Homestay, Khorat, Thailand

About Wild Asia: Wild Asia is a social enterprise working to support the conservation of natural areas and the communities dependent upon their resources. Our ultimate goal is to promote sustainable practices that will minimise adverse impacts on the environment, ensure that local communities are engaged and that local cultures are respected. Our mission is to inspire change to promote positive solutions for environmental and social integrity.

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