Amman, JORDAN – National Geographic has today announced the finalists in its inaugural World Legacy Awards and has recognized Feynan Ecolodge, Jordan as a finalist in the ‘Engaging Communities’ category. The finalists were announced at the ITB Asia event in Singapore.
The World Legacy Awards are a new initiative organised by the National Geographic Society, in partnership with ITB Berlin, aiming to recognise world leading tourism businesses who are driving change in the tourism industry, showcasing leaders and visionaries in sustainable tourism best practices. The ‘Engaging Communities’ category recognises tourism businesses that deliver economic and social benefits and improve local livelihoods. The winners will be announced at the ITB Berlin event in March.
Feynan Ecolodge was named a finalist in the ‘Engaging Communities’ category for its work using ecotourism to benefit the local communities who live around the Dana Biosphere Reserve. These remote Bedouin communities live a semi-nomadic traditional life with few opportunities for income and are affected by poverty. This is the latest in a number of awards won by Feynan Ecolodge including being named one of the top 25 ecolodges in the world by National Geographic Traveler Magazine in 2013 and Highly Commended for Poverty Reduction at the Responsible Tourism Awards in 2011.
Feynan Ecolodge is a 26-room solar-powered lodge with an ethos of providing unique visitor experiences, with a minimal environmental footprint, while contributing money to conservation work and providing income generation opportunities to the local community. Guests at the lodge are also invited to learn about local Bedouin traditions from local families, discover the natural landscape with local trained eco-guides or even spend a day with a local Bedouin shepherd herding goats in the hills.
Feynan Ecolodge directly benefits over 80 families (400 people) around the Dana Reserve, using policies such as exclusively local staff, a local community transfer scheme for guests at the lodge, purchasing products from local businesses and housing two workshops onsite that employ local women to make candles and leather handicrafts that are used and sold at the lodge. In 2013, over 50% of the money spent by tourists at Feynan stayed within the local community.
Nabil Tarazi, founder and managing director of EcoHotels who manage Feynan Ecolodge said: “I am ecstatic that National Geographic is recognizing Feynan as a world leader in ecotourism. Our ethos puts the benefit of local people at the heart of Feynan Ecolodge: from exclusively local staff, to procurement, to activities that celebrate and preserve local culture. It is the local community that makes Feynan such a unique experience.”
“Sustainable tourism has evolved from trend to a true global transformation of how the travel and tourism industry operates and what impacts it has on the people and places that travelers visit. The National Geographic World Legacy Awards are about celebrating that transformation, pushing it to the cutting edge of leadership today, as represented by the 15 finalists from around the world selected by a team of 18 international expert judges,” said Costas Christ, Chairman of the World Legacy Awards and editor at large for National Geographic Traveler.
“The RSCN is thrilled that our flagship property, Feynan, is a finalist for this award.” said Yehya Khaled, Director General of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), the organisation responsible for Dana Biosphere Reserve and owners of Feynan Ecolodge. He continued “Local community development is one of the major issues the RSCN is working on through our network of eight reserves in Jordan. Recognition of the work of EcoHotels at Feynan reinforces the importance of ecotourism as a tool for community benefit through employment and working with local people on exchange experiences with tourists.”