EXO Foundation was nominated as a Finalist for Wild Asia responsible Tourism awards, in the category ‘Best Responsible Tourism Initiative’ in recognition of its overall work fostering sustainable tourism development in Asia.
Since 2006, The Wild Asia Awards identify Asia based sustainability superstars in the travel industry, it is the only regional responsible tourism awards. The Awards are based on the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s Criteria, and provide a unique opportunity for tourism businesses and projects to benchmark their work against international standards.
‘After three years of continuous work it is rewarding to receive some recognition of our attempts and involvement towards improving the destination’s sustainability thanks to the strong commitment of EXO Travel company CEO Olivier Colomès. It is weird after all this hard work and sometimes real difficulties convincing internally to see it all unfolding at the same time thanks to peers’ recognition into constructive results to which now all adheres to 100 % and consider their own. For me this the real success of it all and this will considerably facilitate our work in other destinations and pursuing improving our sustainability record in Vietnam and Cambodia.’ Christine Jacquemin Director
The EXO Foundation major achievement so far was the successful implementation of Travelife certification in Vietnam and Cambodia who are now the first offices in Asia to have received what is the top recognition of Excellence in Sustainability in the travel industry, as well recognised by the GSTC. This involved complying to 229 criterias. Next countries running for the certification are now EXO Thailand, EXO Laos and EXO Myanmar. This scheme includes developing numerous actions, guidelines, policies, among these we can name those highlighted by the audit as best practices : the EXO Cares booklet distributed to travelers, our elephant assessment guidelines and Code of Conduct for Wildlife, Environmental measures implemented within the offices, assessment of EXO supply chain, etc.
Another main achievement of the EXO Foundation is the first successful implementation of its waste management project with the launch of the comic strip ‘Don’t waste your waste ‘ in Khmer language and the construction of the first plastic bottle house project done by our local partner COMPED in Battambang city and which allows:
- to clean up sites,
- finding an economic value to plastic waste, provide extra revenue for waste pickers and local communities and,
- considerably reduce CO2 emissions caused by the production of bricks.
We hope the local authorities will see the advantages of doing so and replicate. In the meantime the Foundation will spread the concept to other Cambodian provinces and EXO destinations. A fact sheet explaining the project can be downloaded here.
Among our other contributions to sustainable development we should not forget our regular support to carefully selected charities, environmental and cultural projects, vocational training programs, humanitarian relief operations, and support to small social enterprises. Over the last 24 months, the EXO Foundation has given over $130,000 to 26 carefully selected projects, furthermore we helped raised $26,460 from individual online donors through our website platform showcasing selected projects.
This September, Winners will be officially announced and celebrated at the 2015 PATA Travel Mart in Bangalore. “Sustainability is one of the main advocacy themes of the Association and an important issue to address when we talk about the responsible development of travel and tourism,” said Mario Hardy, PATA CEO. “We are therefore delighted to host the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards at this year’s Travel Mart and share in the celebration of tourism organisations that truly exemplify what it means to be sustainable.
We hope to see you there ….