Blackberry Hills Munnar Nature Resort & Spa has won a silver award of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism.
Blackberry won the award in the `Increasing Tourism’s Contribution to Natural Heritage and Biodiversity’ category. The gold medal was secured by the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board. Resorts and hotels from over a dozen countries in the India region’ had competed for the awards.
The ICRT awards, in nine categories, were presented to the winners by Madhya Pradesh Tourism Minister Usha Thakur at a glittering official ceremony held at Bhopal on September 7. The jury was chaired by Harold Goodwin, a global campaigner for the responsible tourism movement, who is the founder-director of ICRT. This was the first time that the ICRT awards ceremony was held outside London. In the other regions of the globe the awards are sponsored by Word Travel Market, but in the India region, which covers several countries in Asia, the awards are given out by ICRT India. The Bhopal event was organized in collaboration with the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board and the Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India.
Blackberry’s Conservation Efforts Lauded
Blackberry Hills Munnar won the award for its efforts to conserve and nurture the shola forest it inherited, and for promoting biodiversity. The resort, located at Pothamed, the bird-watching hub of Munnar, is home to a large number of bird species. It also has several varieties of trees, plants and ferns. Over the past nearly a quarter century, the resort has taken care not to disturb the biodiversity on its estate and also kept out non-endemic plant species. It has an abundance of the Malabar Giant Squirrel and the Malabar Whistling Thrush.
Well-known resorts, hotels and travel organizations in Asia vied for gold, silver and `the one to watch’ awards across the nine categories of awards in ICRT’s India region. The top winners from the region will now contest for the global awards which will be presented at an ICRT ceremony in London.
The WTM (World Tourism Market) Responsible Tourism award, instituted by the ICRT in 2004, is a prestigious award in the global travel and hospitality sector.
Responsible to Locals and Travellers
Responsible Tourism gels with the concept of Sustainable Development. It is about “making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit.” This definition was adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2002. Responsible Tourism requires that operators, hoteliers, governments, local people and tourists take responsibility, and also take action to make tourism more sustainable. It’s environment-friendly, people-friendly, and culture-friendly.
RT is characterized by tourism which minimizes negative economic, environmental and social impacts. It also generates greater economic benefits for local people. It enhances the well-being of host communities, improves working conditions and facilitates access to the industry. RT involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life changes. It makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, and to the maintenance of the world’s biodiversity. At the same time, it provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues. It provides access for people with disabilities and the disadvantaged. RT is culturally sensitive, engenders respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence.