Whale Watch Kaikoura wins top award

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Whale Watch Kaikoura has won a second international accolade – in the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards announced in Beijing today (26.05.2010).

The multi award-winning Maori-owned company, which annually takes around 100,000 visitors whale watching on the Pacific Ocean, won the Community Benefit Award – recognising best practice in sustainable tourism.

Whale Watch won against fierce competition. More than 160 entries from over 45 countries were received for the awards. Only 12 made it to the finals, and there were just four winners.

Other finalists in the Community Benefit Award were Namibias Communal Conservancy Tourism Sector and Indias Tourindia.

Whale Watch is committed to carefully managing its use of a rare natural resource. We will cherish this award, just as we cherish our values of hospitality to visitors and reverence for the natural world,” said chief operating officer Kauahi Ngapora.

Responsible tourism

Whale Watch Kaikoura was also named the supreme winner in the 2009 Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards – the most respected of their type in the world.

The 100 percent Maori-owned company ticks a number of boxes, such as community-mindedness, contribution to New Zealands cultural heritage and sustainability – all of which helped them towards winning both coveted international awards.

Finalists for the Community Benefit category in the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards were required to show a positive contribution to cultural heritage, local community input and empowerment, training and educational opportunities.

Whale Watch Kaikoura was originally set up to help local Maori gain employment.

The company operates as a charitable entity, representing the indigenous Ngati Kuri Maori tribe and four local founding families. It has an annual turnover of NZ$10 million and at least $55,000 of its annual profit is distributed to the Kaikoura community to fund local projects.

Tourism for Tomorrow

Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are made in four major categories.

Categories are selected to show how destinations can develop their tourism using sustainable methods. Apart from the community benefit award won by Whale Watch, the other categories are destination stewardship, conservation and global tourism business.

The awards are made by the World Travel & Tourism Council. Jean-Claude Baumgarten, chief executive and president of the World Travel & Tourism Committee, says the awards are the highest accolades for sustainable tourism in the industry.

“These four awards are helping to set the standard for future developments in sustainable tourism as a positive opportunity for our planet and its diverse culture and natural heritage,” Baumgarten said.

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