The Skål International Sustainable Tourism Award has been awarded for the 16th time in Hyderabad, India, at the 78th Skål World Congress.
It is certainly one of the most prestigious trophies in the sphere of eco-tourism as Skål International is the largest tourism association in the world.
These ceremonies have been increasingly successful since their launch in 2002 to highlight the best tourist practices in the world and also to familiarize the rest of the tourist industry with this new concept, which emphasizes the interactions of the physical, cultural and social environment, the responsibility of the traveler and the need for active community participation in the protection of the planet.
2017 being the year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, the ceremony took on a whole new dimension.
Ten categories were rewarded. Selection was based on a set of criteria such as nature preservation, carbon footprint, climate change mitigation, human rights protection and local employment.
Okeanos Sustainable Sea Transport is a young company in Vanuatu that was also awarded at the event.
The company is mainly about a traditional canoe, “vaka”, propelled by technologies which do not use fossil energies.
Coconut oil for their engine, and solar panels for their electricity. On board, plastic is avoided as much as possible.
“Our toothbrushes and sunglasses are made of bamboo, our flip-flops are biodegradable, no straw, our food comes from the local market, we recycle everything that can be recycled in Vanuatu etc.,” a company statement said.
Thus, Okeanos Vanuatu aims to propose an alternative means of transport for the archipelago.
“We are committed to eco-tourism, always in partnership with communities, to promote the protection of the ocean in a country so exposed and so little informed.
“Our activities also include awareness-raising campaigns, assistance in the event of a cyclone, and safeguarding the culture of celestial navigation by bringing the premises to this almost extinct practice.
“For Okeanos Vanuatu, this award means that we are moving in the right direction, that our efforts are not in vain. In a way, Skål encourages us to continue.
“This award is likely to attract the attention of some tourism stakeholders in Vanuatu and, I hope, inspire them. That is all we can hope for.
“Okeanos Vanuatu is such a young company, and being recognized by this renowned entity, in our first year of operation, is an honor and a blessing,” the company said in a statement.
(Source: Vanuatu Daily Post 31 October 2017)