London, England - Sam Veasna Center (SVC) has been named the Gold Winner in the ‘Best Contribution to Wildlife Conservation’ Category at the 2016 World Responsible Tourism Awards sponsored by Belize.
SVC, working in partnership with the Cambodia Ministry of Environment (MoE) and WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), has been recognised for its innovative approach to community-based conservation at Cambodia’s Protected Areas, such as Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, Ang Trapeang Thmor Protected Landscape, Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, Chaeb Wildlife Sanctuary, and Prek Toal Core Area and Ramsar Site of the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve. As part of that approach, SVC has trained local people in ecotourism in return for signing ‘no hunting’ agreements. In addition, by tying village development fund donations to the number of species sighted, a successful cycle of conservation and tourism which is protecting some of the world’s rarest large birds, and generating sustainable incomes for rural Cambodian communities, has been created.
“The judges recognise the SVC for its highly replicable approach, whereby rural communities are trained in ecotourism, and contributions to community development funds are tied to tourist sightings of endangered species, creating an incentive to protect habitats and not to hunt,” explained Professor Harold Goodwin, Chair of Judges, speaking on behalf of the judging panel, an eminent collection of responsible tourism leaders from across the industry, NGOs and public organisations.
“Conservation offers new alternative for local communities to live up their livelihoods through ecotourism activities. Eco-tourism like that done by SVC in protected areas, that benefits local communities and the environment, is exactly what Cambodia needs to grow our tourism sector and sustainably fund conservation,” said H.E. Say Samal, Minister of Environment. “This global award puts Cambodia on the world stage for responsible tourism. Congratulation to SVC and the communities they work with. This is a great achievement.”
“This result recognizes the importance of ecotourism in Cambodia and the success for conservation achieved through responsible tourism,” said Sean Mardy who represents SVC to receive the award at London.
“SVC is a world class example of responsible tourism. We are pleased to see them get this well-deserved international recognition for their substantial and innovative conservation approach. WCS is proud to work with partners like these,” said Dr Ross Sinclair, WCS’s Country Director.
The potential businesses have to inspire change is not lost on Justin Francis, founder of the Awards and CEO of organisers Responsible Travel.
“When I founded these awards in 2004, the aim was to highlight what is possible to achieve through responsible tourism and hold the winners up as examples to be replicated by the wider tourism industry. Our winners are the future of tourism.
Commenting on the calibre of the winners, Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director for World Travel Market London and Awards judge said: “This year’s World Responsible Tourism Awards have been of a phenomenally high standard. The joint winners put the local communities at the heart of what they are looking to deliver.”