Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary Is A Worthy Contender For This Prestigious Ecotourism Award – Let’s Make It Happen!
We receive hundreds of media releases every month at Barbados Free Press because some folks obviously have us confused with the so-called mainstream news media. 😉
A few days ago we saw a release announcing the winners of the 2007 Skål International Ecotourism Awards and when we looked into the awards we thought “Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary could have won this in a flash!”
When we surfed over to the Skål Awards website our initial thoughts were confirmed: under the judging rules the GH Nature Sanctuary would be a real top contender.
Who Is Skål?
From the Skål website (link here)…
“Skål, founded as an international association in 1934 is the largest organisation of travel and tourism professionals in the world, embracing all sectors of the tourism industry, including hoteliers, travel agents, airlines, tourism media, tourism students etc. Skål with 22,000 members is active in 87 Countries and approximately 500 locations worldwide.”
What Are The Skål Ecotourism Awards?
From a media release…
Skål International is aiming at quality in tourism and values sustainable development in Tourism as the key to the industry’s future success and considers Ecotourism but one area of the various components of sustainable development and responsible tourism.
To encourage the conservation of the environment and help to promote the development of responsible and sustainable tourism, Skål International initiated an awards program in 2002, during “The Year of Ecotourism and the Mountains” as declared by United Nations.”
While the purpose of these awards was to highlight best practices in ecotourism around the world, they were also created with the aim of acquainting the world with this new concept that puts emphasis on the importance of the interaction of the physical, cultural and social environment, the traveler’s responsibility and the need for active community participation for Ecotourism.”
In their sixth year (2007) the awards have received continued support worldwide and this year 46 entries were received originating from 24 Countries; eight from Asia, 10 from the Americas, seven from Europe, 14 from Africa and seven from Oceania.
Entry & Judging Criteria
It was when we read the entry and judging criteria that we realised the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary could be a winner. Here is the 2007 criteria as the 2008 awards nominations have not yet started…
Companies from the public and private sector as well as NGO’s can submit entries in the following categories :
1. Tour Operators – Travel Agents
2. Accommodation providers of any size and category
4. General Countryside (Alpine Tourism, Underwater Projects, Beaches, Theme Parks, Scenic Mountains, Rivers, Lakes)
5. Cities – Villages (Community and Government Projects)
6. Educational Programmes – Media
What are the criteria for winning the Awards?
The primary criteria will be based on the following evaluation points:
1. Contribution to the conservation of nature, environmental considerations
2. Cultural heritage conservation
3. Community involvement and benefits
4. Educational features
5. Results already achieved
6. Business viability
In 2007, the winner of in the category of General Countryside was the Coral Reef Walk & Restoration Program and Coral Farm, Fiji Islands.
We Have About Six Months To Prepare A 2008 Nomination
Although it isn’t clear (that we saw) on the Skål website, it seems that an organisation can nominate itself for the award, or people from the community can file a nomination. A PowerPoint presentation on a CD and other materials accompany the entry, so it is not a simple matter of merely filling in a form.
There is also a requirement that the entry be vouched for by a local tourism organisation or government. Hopefully the Prime Minister won’t let his dislike of sanctuary creator Peter Allard stand in the way of Barbados receiving the positive international attention that even a nomination would bring.
Read about the whole process yourself folks. This is very achievable. We are convinced that our Barbados Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary could win!
Although the nature sanctuary (or maybe Friends of Graeme Hall?) should organise the submission, we supporters can surely generate enough excitement and letter-writing support in the general community as thousands of folks signed the petition against putting the Caribbean Splash Waterpark anywhere near Graeme Hall.
Head over to the Skål website (link here) and then let’s talk about how we can make this a reality.