National Geographic’s announcement of the finalists for the 2017 World Legacy Awards contained some very good news for Belize’s The Lodge at Chaa Creek and the local communities it supports while highlighting the value of sustainable tourism and responsible travel, the Belizean eco-resort’s owners said.
The World Legacy Awards (WLA) is a collaboration between the National Geographic and ITB Berlin that seeks to honor companies, organizations, and destinations that drive positive transformation of the tourism industry.
With categories like “Earth Changers”, “Sense of Place”, and “Destination Leadership”, the WLA’s aim to spotlight the best of the forward-thinking best.
A December 1, 2016 National Geographic media release praised the finalists for “showing the way forward to a brighter future for people and the planet” by “driving the sustainable tourism transformation of the global travel industry,” an ongoing effort Mick and Lucy Fleming say has positive implications for the global travel industry as well as the future of the planet.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek has been chosen as one of the three finalists for the “Engaging Communities” category of awards along with Thailand’s Andaman Discoveries and Chambok Community Based Eco Tourism/Mlup Baitong in Cambodia.
The Engaging Communities category is given to an applicant who aids in the direct and tangible economic and social benefits that improve local livelihoods. This includes training, capacity building, fair wages and benefits, community development, health care and education endeavors.
“All of us, from my family to each of our 160 staff members were thrilled to hear that Chaa Creek has been selected as a finalist for the World Legacy Awards. They are certainly prestigious honors but, more importantly, the awards promote responsible travel and show the way forward in fostering an industry that opens the world’s natural beauty and culture to travelers in ways that actually benefit the environment and people.”
“Responsible travel is something we deeply believe in, especially in regards to bringing people together and benefitting communities, so to be selected as one of three examples worldwide in our category is as humbling as it is exciting,” Ms. Fleming said.
Costas Christ, Chairman of National Geographic World Legacy Awards, said, “We have reached a tipping point as more of the travel industry understands that there can be no future for tourism without sustainability, including environmentally-friendly business practices, protection of cultural and natural heritage, and tangible social and economic benefits to local people in travel destinations. Those countries and companies that understand this today will be the travel leaders of tomorrow. These 15 World Legacy Awards finalists are showing the way forward to a brighter future for people and the planet.”
Rika Jean-François, CSR Commissioner for ITB Berlin: “The World Legacy Awards, which are about to be held for the third time, have established themselves as highly prestigious for the global travel industry.”
Ms. Fleming said that bond with local communities was integral to how the eco-resort developed and has been key to Chaa Creek’s success.
The winners will be announced live on stage at the World Legacy Awards ceremony on 8 March, 2017, held at the Palais am Funkturm during ITB Berlin, and the Flemings said they’ll be in attendance to represent Chaa Creek and Belize. Winners and Finalists will also be recognized by National Geographic Traveler magazine.