Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Environmental Pat on Back for Small Ship Company

International Panel Singles Out Small Ship Company Ecoventura To Receive Virgin Holidays Award for Responsible Tourism

MIAMI, FL, Nov. 19, 2008 – The small ship, visionary travel company, Ecoventura, got a pat on the back at World Travel Market in London earlier this month.

Ecoventura received the "Best in Marine Environment" accolade, among 13 overall award categories on responsible tourism presented by Virgin Holidays. Judges noted that Ecoventura contributes scholarships for education and helps local women develop micro-businesses. It recently converted a fishing boat into a restaurant and boutique providing alternative livelihoods for the wives of fishermen. Ecoventura was also recognized to be among the first cruise operators to be independently environmentally audited.

"We, as a company, are both humbled and energized by this prestigious award," said Ecoventura president Santiago Dunn who was present to receive the award. "It's wonderful to be recognized for our past efforts but our groundbreaking work on setting the bar for responsible tourism in the Galapagos has just begun."

In 2000 Ecoventura became one of the first recipients of SmartVoyager, a voluntary environmental certification developed by New York-based The Rainforest Alliance and Corporacion y Desarollo from Ecuador. The program gives a "green seal of approval" to tour boats that comply with requirements to tread lightly on the area's fragile eco-system.

In 2005 Santiago Dunn received the prestigious Individual Sustainable Standard-Setter award for making a significant contribution to environmental conservation and sustainability.

In 2006 Ecoventura, in partnership with NativeEnergy, became the first Carbon Neutral operation in the Galapagos (and Ecuador).

In 2007 Ecoventura partnered with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to create the Galapagos Marine Biodiversity Fund which targets environmental education and marine conservation by strengthening the local communities' ability to manage natural resources.

At the 2008 Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards, the country of New Zealand won the grand prize. A total of 13 awards were presented across a range of categories including best for poverty reduction (Gambia), best volunteering organization (Camps International), best personal contribution (Jane Ashton, head of sustainable development, TUI Travel PLC), best large hotel (Kingfisher Bay, Fraser Island, Australia) and best cruise or ferry operator (Holland America Line).

The distinguished panel of judges included Professor Harold Goodwin, co-director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism at Leeds Metropolitan University, Justin Francis, managing director of responsibletravel.com and Graham Boynton, group travel editor of Telegraph Media Group.

"In this, the fifth year of the Awards, the bar has been raised for responsible tourism yet again," said Justin Francis. "What inspires me are the efforts that businesses and destinations are making to ensure that responsible tourism lies at the heart of their strategies and plans. Without a doubt, this is the only way to plan for the future – responsible travel is not a passing fad or a niche travel trend for marketing purposes. It is an entire, holistic approach to tourism operations."

About Ecoventura: Ecoventura is a family-owned company based in Guayaquil, Ecuador, with sales offices in Quito and Miami. In operation since 1990, the cruise company transports 4,000+ passengers annually aboard a fleet of three expedition vessels; identical, superior first-class 20-passenger motor yachts with 10 double cabins. The company also operates the Sky Dancer, a 16-passenger dedicated dive live-aboard offering 7-night weekly itineraries visiting the northern islands of Wolf and Darwin. All of its vessels have been purposefully retrofitted to meet or exceed the highest possible environmental standards.
To reserve a cabin or to receive a copy of Ecoventura's 2009 catalog please call toll-free 1.800.644.7972, or e-mail info@galapagosnetwork.com. To access current rates, schedules and itineraries you can log onto http://www.ecoventura.com/.

About The Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards: The Awards are the most prestigious and competitive of their kind in the world and are a collaboration between online travel directory responsibletravel.com, UK media partners The Daily Telegraph, Geographical Magazine and BBC World News, and World Travel Market who host the event. Now in their fifth year, the central tenet of the Awards is that all types of tourism - from niche to mainstream - can and should be operated in a way that respects and benefits destinations and local people. This year a record 1,976 nominations were received from travelers around the world voting for tourism ventures that provide outstanding holidays that also benefit local people and destinations. See http://www.responsibletourismawards.com for further information.