The highly anticipated 4th TOFTigers Wildlife Tourism Awards 2016, which recognise the best in the field of nature tourism, will be announced on September 22. The Awards are run by the sustainable nature tourism action charity Tour Operators for Tigers, or TOFTigers, in association with Outlook Traveller and Sanctuary Asia.
The Awards aim to highlight and reward the very best in the nature tourism field; those individuals, businesses, service providers and community enterprises who are leading the way in wilderness destinations in the Indian subcontinent. This year’s theme is celebrating ‘Rewilding—at the heart of responsible nature tourism’.
There are nine categories of awards this year which include The John Wakefield Memorial Award for Most Inspirational Eco Lodge of the Year 2016, The Billy Arjun Singh Memorial Award for Best Wildlife Guide of the Year 2016 (prize of Rs 20,000) and a Wildlife and Tourism Initiative of the Year 2016 (prize—Rs 50,000 towards equipment/services for the benefit of the community).
There is also a Visitor Friendly Wildlife Destination of the Year 2016 with a prize of Rs 75,000 worth of kit or equipment to be used in tiger protection/conservation.
Each awardee in their own way will be pioneering new ways to support and inspire wildlife conservation, engage local communities and help restoration of wildlife habitat through their vision, drive and actions.
With the new government’s commitment to use tourism as a development and job creation tool, it’s more critical than ever that it’s driven down a sustainable path, and real ecotourism is one of the principal ways of ensuring conservation as well as a sustainable source of revenue for both local communities and the government. Tiger tourism derives hundreds of millions of pounds, rupees and dollars of revenue for travel operators, and accommodation and service providers in India, yet an almost negligible, fraction of this is currently reinvested in the conservation of the parks and reserves you will enjoy as part of your holiday.
To date there has been too little effort to enforce wildlife laws, too little communication and information to help parks and tourists support each other and too little effort to encourage locally run responsible wildlife tourism. It is critical that local communities become stakeholders, rather than conservation victims, in the battle to save India’s forests and wildlife.
It is more important than ever to recognise those who work towards a sustainable future for the tiger, the environment and for the local communities who need to survive alongside our many endangered species.
Register and vote for the Awards here: http://www.toftigers.org/TOFTigersAwards/toftigers-awards-2016