London, England – Cambodia’s Sam Veasna Center (SVC) has been named one of just 13 finalists in the 2016 World Responsible Tourism Awards at the World Travel Market in London. SVC manages wildlife viewing trips with exclusive access to Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) sites across Cambodia.
Cambodia is becoming globally renowned as a destination for eco-tourists looking to see species and habitats that have all but vanished from across Southeast Asia. It is home to some of the world’s most globally threatened birds and wildlife, from the iconic Giant Ibis, Cambodia’s national bird, to emblematic Eld’s Deer, species that can only be seen by tourists on SVC tours. By taking birding and wildlife safaris throughout Cambodia and working closely with rural communities in the most vulnerable habitats, SVC and conservation partner WCS have been able to measure the growth in populations of critically endangered species, a reduction in deforestation, and an improvement in the livelihoods of local communities. The SVC model for eco-tourism is to directly incentivize conservation in communities. This is done by paying a fee directly to the community when certain wildlife are seen, and by employing community members as guides and other service providers.
“Being recognised in this way puts Cambodia on the world tourism map for its incredible birding and wildlife tourism – not something the country is traditionally famous for. It also highlights the importance of ecotourism in Cambodia and the success for conservation achieved through responsible tourism. The more tourists who come to see our wildlife in a responsible way, the more of that wildlife that can be protected, and the more communities can directly benefit,” says Mr Johnny Orn, Director of Sam Veasna Center.
Dr Ross Sinclair, WCS’s Country Director says: “Being a finalist in the 2016 World Responsible Tourism Awards is recognition of the quality and impact of SVC’s ecotourism products. By partnering with a conservation NGO like WCS to ensure there are conservation outcomes, and working with communities to ensure livelihood benefits, SVC is a world class example of responsible tourism.”
Commenting on the standard of the finalists, Chair of Judges, Professor Harold Goodwin says, “This year we have an incredibly strong field of contenders. Over the past few months each of these organisations has been subject to intense scrutiny by a panel of judges combining some of the leading minds in responsible tourism, conservation and development in the country. They have come through one of the most rigorous and competitive judging processes for an Awards scheme of this kind and have emerged as international leaders in their respective fields.”
SVC was established by WCS in 2006 as a local conservation enterprise and although fully independent the two organizations work closely together to further their conservation missions. Each year SVC invests profits into conservation. In the last year it has supported conservation projects for several Critically Endangered species, and in important protected areas such as the Prek Toal Core area of the Tonle Sap biosphere Reserve and the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary.
Notes to editors:
· SVC has successfully made it through the most rigorous tourism Awards judging process and is now in contention to be globally awarded for its contribution to wildlife conservation. Innovation, inspiration and repeatable models were key criteria for this year’s finalists. SVC’s innovative approach, working alongside WCS Cambodia, of conservation through community-based ecotourism has been celebrated for the clear conservation success it has shown.
· By taking birding and wildlife safaris throughout Cambodia and working closely with rural communities in the most vulnerable habitats, SVC and its’ conservation partner WCS, have been able to measure the stabilisation and growth of critically endangered species, and a reduction in deforestation.