The inaugural Regenerative Travel Impact Awards 2021 has seen an outstanding celebration of the spirit that underpins our mission of regeneration. Throughout our global search for changemakers, trailblazers and positive impact pioneers, we’ve been spoilt for choice with truly remarkable initiatives and individuals. Our panel of esteemed judges has ranged from thought-leaders in wildlife and marine conservation to notable figures in travel media and social impact, all of whom took on the mammoth task of choosing victors in all categories from such a wonderful range of finalists.
Our judges included: Martinique Lewis, President of the Black Travel Alliance, Juliet Kinsman, Sustainability Editor at Condé Nast Traveller, Anthony Myint, Founder of ZeroFood Print, Lea d’Auriol, Founder of Oceanic Global, Paloma Zapata, CEO of Sustainable Travel International, Api Movono, Senior Lecturer in Development Studies, Sheldon Scott, Director of Culture at Eaton Workshop, and Anna Bjurstam, Wellness Pioneer at Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas.
Without further ado, the winners of the Impact Awards 2021 are as follows.
Regenerative Hotel of the Year: Fogo Island Inn
Regenerative Travel member hotel, Fogo Island Inn is a 100% social business model and commitment to community and transparency shines through in how they prioritise preserving cultural heritage, support ecologically sustainability and invest in the local economy. Zita understands that a regenerative travel experience in its true form includes human, social, economic, and environmental factors. In November 2020, to help create more globally recognized, locally driven businesses that benefit destinations, Zita launched the Community Economics Pilot, an enterprise that will apply learnings from Fogo Island to four different communities within Canada.
Finalists: Volcanoes Safaris, Mashpi Lodge, Mana Earthly Paradise, Rockhouse Jamaica
Regenerative Travel Initiative of the Year: Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency
Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency is the largest ever collaboration by the tourism industry and is entirely volunteer-run with over 270 members and has published three Climate Action Blueprints to support multiple service roles across the industry. This November, at COP26, Tourism Declares published three Climate Action Blueprints to support anyone working for a Tour Operator, Accommodation Provider, or Destination to deliver their own Climate Action Plan.
Finalists: Amazonas Explorer: Staff Reinvention Project, Blue Apple Beach: Supply Chain Review Project, Planeterra: Global Community Tourism Network, Great Himalaya Trail: MyGHTI
Regenerative Activist of the Year: Sasha Hashim, Field Project Manager at Blue Marine Foundation’s Maldives Project
Shaha is the field project Manager for Blue Marine Foundation’s (BLUE’s) Maldives project, based in Laamu Atoll, where she works to protect marine ecosystems, increasing biodiversity, and providing the Maldives with greater resilience to the effects of climate change. Shaha is a voice for many who do not have the capacity or platform to speak, working towards fair and well-managed resources based upon scientific evidence. Shaha piloted a seagrass conservation project at Six Senses Laamu, playing an instrumental role in developing the #ProtectMaldivesSeagrass campaign, which successfully raised awareness within the Maldivian community and the tourism industry on these ecosystems’ importance.
Finalists: Vincie Ho, Founder of RISE Travel Institute, Mikaela Loach, Environmental Activist, co-founder of the #PaidtoPollute campaign, trainee Doctor and presenter of The Yikes Podcast, Cliona O’Flaherty and Viviana Taubera from Kokomo Private Island Fiji’s Marine Biology Team
Conservation: Gamewatchers Adopt an Acre Initiative
The global pandemic and closing down of international tourism very quickly had a serious and potentially permanent impact on the community conservancies in Kenya, which Gamewatchers helped pioneer. Its model was based on using small-scale tourism to protect habitat in partnership with communities. As a reaction to cuts in tourism due to the global pandemic, Gamewatchers created the ‘Adopt an Acre’ initiative which has raised almost US$400,000 to protect wildlife habitats and support local livelihoods in an effort to combat the impact of travel cessation due to international restrictions.
Finalists: Dazzle Africa: Adopt a Scout Program, Six Senses Maldives: Maldives Underwater Initiative, Fragments of Hope
Community: Seeds & Stories Uganda
Seeds & Stories is a community-led regenerative fashion initiative based in Bigodi, Uganda, focused on providing employment and socio-economic employment for women and young people, where all products are made by local women using plant-based fibres grown by local farmers in a carbon-neutral workshop. The project was developed due to emerging issues related to COVID-19; recent research demonstrated that local women identified a lack of a sustainable source of income as their most significant challenge. Women in particular are faced with immense workloads, farming and domestic chores, working on average 15 hours per day.
Finalists: Living Heritage Koslanda, Indigenous Kokoda Adventures
Climate: Mountain Homestays
As a community-led social tourism initiative, Mountain Homestays is leading the way in providing opportunities for the livelihood of indigenous people and women in particular in remote regions of India, using solar power, greenhouses, water filters, solar water heaters, and use waste for compost to get as close to carbon neutral status as possible. The on-ground MH team surveys agrarian mountain communities in Ladakh to assess community needs and identify unique elements of their culture and lifestyle. Next, solar electricity and solar water heaters are provided to local householders. It then works with partner families to transform traditional homes into boutique homestays.
Finalists: YHA New Zealand, Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency, Trees4Travel
Education: Love The Oceans
Love The Oceans is a marine conservation NGO works in Jangamo, Mozambique, using a holistic approach by applying a bottom-up, community-led approach to creating a locally-managed marine protection area as well as teaching basic marine management, English language, and swimming and diving to equip the next generation with the knowledge to continue their conservation. Love The Ocean’s education initiatives invest in the next generation, building a local team with the knowledge and skillsets to ensure successful conservation.
Finalists: Rockhouse Jamaica Foundation, Africa Foundation Hustle Economy Micro-Enterprise Support Program, Share the Wonder
Health and Wellness: The Farm at San Benito
Located in the Philippines, The Farm at San Benito exemplifies healing through food and the importance of maintaining the diversity of regional food and agricultural traditions whilst honoring ancient traditions of health and wellness mixed with modern wisdom in order the provide the best level of regeneration possible. A truly eco and socially responsible green business, The Farm aims for a cleaner and healthier environment as it not only believes in the healing power of nature but in healing nature as well. The philosophy lies in learning how to eat in harmony with the environment. This entails a full understanding of the relationships and interactions between ourselves, the foods that we eat, the lifestyles we choose to lead, and the environment in which we live.
Finalists: The Ranch Malibu, Aro Ha Wellness Retreat, Natural Change: Alladale Wilderness Reserve
Food and Agriculture: Alladale Wilderness Reserve
During the 2020 lockdowns, Alladale Wilderness Reserve set about creating the UK’s largest aquaponic gardens. Aimed at drastically reducing transport miles, the gardens will grow to supply about 90% of all vegetables and herbs needed for Alladale’s guest menu. It utilizes technological advances and scientific knowledge and uses only 5% of the water required compared to using traditional food-growing systems. The zero-waste food production scheme uses trout to supply the nutrients needed for the plants to grow. The plants in turn filter the water for the fish. When the fish come to the end of their life cycle, they are also used for the guest menu.
Finalists: Onda Wellness, Mashpi Lodge, Agritourism India
People’s Choice: Fogo Island Inn
We opened up the People’s Choice to vote and our Regenerative Travel community were invited to choose their favorite initiative/ individual from all of the Impact Award’s finalists. The vote attracted over 3,400 submissions with Fogo Island Inn winning in the People’s Choice category. Winning two of our most prestigious categories in the inaugural year of the Regenerative Travel Impact Awards makes it abundantly clear that Zita Cobb and the Fogo Island Inn team are doing something truly impressive for both their community and for visitors.