Travel firms, hotels awarded for giving back to society

Wed Aug 19, 2009 12:42am EDT
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SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Most holidays tend to be self-indulgent affairs but the places you stay at need not be, with travel magazine Conde Naste Traveler awarding hotels, airlines and travel companies for being socially responsible.

The World Savers Awards, now in their third year, honor companies globally for their efforts in five areas: poverty alleviation, cultural or environmental preservation, education programs, wildlife conservation, and health initiatives.

Puntacana Resort & Club, a luxury property in the Dominican Republic, won the overall education award for building schools for its workers and their children as well as the award for the most socially responsible large resort.

South African safari lodge Bushmans Kloof, the winner of the small resorts category, also bagged the award for wildlife conservation while French hotel chain Accor, which educates and tests its staff in Africa for HIV/AIDS, was awarded for having the best health initiative.

"Despite these challenging economic times, corporate social responsibility is as important as ever," Conde Naste Traveler's editor-in-chief Klara Glowczewska said in a statement.

"The travel industry is on track to generate $7.3 trillion in revenue this year, a number that represents an enormous opportunity to improve our planet, and our World Savers Awards recognize those companies turning that potential into a reality."

The magazine said The Haciendas, a small chain in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, did the most to help the poor, turning abandoned haciendas into chic resorts and hiring villagers as well as helping others to start their own businesses.

The environmental preservation award was shared by Air New Zealand, which the magazine said was leading the way in exploring climate-friendly fuel sources, and U.S.-based boutique luxury chain Kimpton Hotels for introducing a range of eco-friendly practices and products.

Conde Naste Traveler reviewed over 100 applications, picking 36 finalists.

An independent panel of 20 judges, comprised of travel industry executives and experts as well non-governmental organizations, decided the winners, who will be given their awards on September 21 in New York City.

(Reporting by Miral Fahmy, editing by Belinda Goldsmith)