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Irish Responsible Tourism Awards

March 10, 2015
Harold Goodwin
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This is the first year of the Irish Responsible Tourism Awards and the judges were heartened by the strength of the nominations in all categories. The Irish Responsible Tourism Awards are part of the family of Awards which use the same criteria and judging processes as those used in the World Responsible Tourism Awards which have run since 2004.

Best Tour Operator for Responsible Tourism
Awarded to a tour operator that educates and inspires travellers through their responsible approach to leading excursions, their knowledge of issues in the places they visit, and the way they convey how to be a responsible traveller.

Gold: Connemara Wild Escapes www.connemarawildescapes.ie
Connemara Wild Escapes is a destination specialist tour operator established in 2011. It researches, finds, develops, packages and sells tailor made and off the shelf activities and experiences. Sales channels are via the travel trade and online through the website. Their markets are UK, mainland Europe and North America. They have moved from start-up mode to a position of destination leadership in terms of moving their entire supply chain and destination as a whole toward responsible travel in a few short years. There is a strong educational element in all their tours focussed on conservation and an active partnership approach encouraging local and international visitors to adopt a conservation travel approach to their holiday experience. They support a number of conservation initiatives including Tidy Towns, the Oughterard Hatchery, the Red Grouse project-Cregg, and the Lough Corrib Common Scoter Duck project. Working with over 200 local suppliers the business brings significant economic benefit to the local, disadvantaged, rural area. They spend over €100,000 in the local economy and provide 5 direct jobs, and uniquely the company also has a conservation and responsible tourism code of practice and policy agreement with all of its suppliers. The judges felt that this was an innovative, scalable and replicable model.

Silver: Cycle Inishowen www.cycleinishowen.com
Established in 2012 Cycle Inishowen is a small rural operator dedicated to showing visitors the beautify of Inishowen, while getting people out of cars and onto bikes, contributing to conservation, carbon reduction and other local initiatives. They have received measurable feedback from guests having encouraged 200 people to cycle to Malin Head. Responsible tourism for them, as they said in their application,“is all about offering sustainable alternatives and making no impact on the environment around you. This is very important here in Inishowen as we are lucky enough to live in a scenic, unspoilt destination. The trick is to capitalise on that, while also preserving it. Here at Cycle Inishowen we have a genuine interest in wildlife and the outdoors, so from the very beginnings we tried to make our options as green as possible. This means more than just getting people out of cars for us; we also try to encourage them to explore, to get involved, and to go to other businesses and attractions.”
The judges felt that they were still in earlier stages of Responsible Tourism development and they look forward to seeing a further application when the model has developed further.
Silver: Whale Watch West Cork www.whalewatchwestcork.com
Whale Watch West Cork is an excellent example of a small scale family run marine tour operator focussed on marine wildlife. Nic Slocum designed his own comprehensive Code of Conduct for Whale Watching in 2005, a code which has governed their practise. Whale Watch West Cork is recognised as a leader in the field of responsible marine tourism in Ireland and the rest of the world reflected in Whale Watch West Cork winning a World Cetacean Alliance, Responsible Whale Watching award in 2013. More recently Nic Slocum has been instrumental in forming an alliance of responsible boat operators in Baltimore, West Cork in 2014 - Baltimore Whale and Dolphin Watch - with a view to positioning of Baltimore as the home of responsible marine tourism. The judges are interested to see how this new association develops.

Best Small Hotel or Accommodation for Responsible Tourism
Awarded to a small (under 50 rooms) hotel, guesthouse, B&B or glamping business that can demonstrate principles of responsible tourism have been incorporated into every aspect of their business.
This is a very broad category reflected in the winners ranging from a small hotel to a camping experience; it attracted a large number of entries and the judges noted how strong entries were in this category which is why it was decided to award several silver awards in this category
Gold: Hotel Doolin  www.hoteldoolin.ie
The Hotel Doolin has won several green hospitality awards and the judges were particularly impressed by the willingness of the Hotel Doolin to share with us the data on their targets on energy, waste, water, green purchasing and community social responsibility. As one of their referees pointed out
“The hotel has its own polytunnels, adopts donkeys and runs a local shop with only suppliers from Co Clare and mainly the Burren . The hotel has been a key driver of many organisations from Burren ecotourism Network, Clare Slow Food ,and many local economic and cultural committees which has revived many festivals from Doolin Folk festival to writers festival and Irish Craft beer festival .
The hotel has invested in many capital intensive projects over the years from Combi Ovens in the kitchen to more carbon efficient ones were identified. Local Art now hangs on the walls, in the bathrooms local Voya Seaweed products are supplied and no individual packages of condiments are in the dining room. Local food is key to all menus and is evident all year round.”
Their 25 mile food purchase ethos has only one exception and that is only 100km away. The Hotel Doolin has gone well beyond the standard activities of leader in this field – for example closing the hotel to paying guests during Christmas 2014 to accommodate St Vincent de Paul families. The Hotel Doolin has demonstrated that it is possible to significantly improve the environment performance of an established hotel without significant structural changes while being extremely socially active The judges feel that this is a great model that could be replicated by other established hotels.
Silver: Ard Nahoo www.ardnahoo.com
The judges recognised that this is an inspiring example because sustainability was at the heart of the building of this retreat, as one of their referees put it “right from the concept development stage of their expansion, when they enlisted Living Architecture architect Peter Cowman, right through to their choice of eco- paints, they have had the environment and sustainability at the heart of their project.” The building fit into the landscape, heating is through renewables (wood pellets) and wherever possible they employ and source locally and they encourage visitors to engage in local activities to benefit other businesses in the area.
Silver: Pure Camping www.purecamping.ie
Passion for nature really came through in this application which demonstrated an integrated approach to tourism and environmental education. Pure Camping has eco-tourism accreditation and they have invested in facilities such as solar powered showers, composting facilities and have a net positive impact ethos in that that they attempt to show customers what they can do to benefit the environment when they go home. Pure Camping has been very active in contributing to the development of Loop Head as a destination. The judges were very impressed and look forward to seeing how it develops over the next few years.
Silver: Tory Bush Cottages www.torybush.com
One of the strongest entrants in terms of the investment in innovative sustainable design – the enterprise is now 90% powered by non-fossil fuels. Very strong in terms of the positive contribution to local wildlife – with bee hives on site, planting to suit red squirrels and the owner trained as a Geo Ambassador for the geo tourism region (Mourne Cooley Gullion). A genuine commitment to environmental stewardship and education came through in this entry.
Best Transport Initiative for Responsible Tourism
Awarded to a transport operator demonstrating an innovative and responsible approach to visitor transportation. This award is focussed towards tourism transport businesses including, but not limited to, those operating tour buses, charter flights, ferries, taxis, shuttle vans, rural transport, bike hire, car hire & motor-caravan hire.
This category attracted a wide range of entries from transport to activity providers
Gold: An Taisce Green Schools Travel and Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark Partnership . www.burrengeopark.ie
An Taisce’s Green-Schools Travel programme have been encouraging children to cycle to school for several years, and the Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark created a partnership with the An Taisce’s programme’s officer for Clare; an innovative initiative taking experience from working with schools to encourage children to cycle and applying it to tourism. They have developed an app that will tell you where to get your bike fixed, measure your carbon footprint, lists public transport options etc. The programme provides free cycle training for tourism operators and attractive discounts from business in the Burren Ecotourism Network for all visiting cyclists. This is an ambitious behavioural change initiative underpinned by the provision of information and some incentives for those who use sustainable forms of transport in the Burren. The judges are interested to see how much this initiative grows over the next few years and whether or not it is replicated elsewhere.
Silver: Cycle Inishowen www.cycleinishowen.com
The judges wanted to recognise the efforts of Cycle Inishowen in offering cycling as a “fun alternative” to driving around Inishowen. This not only means visitors are travelling at a pace which allows them to better appreciate the beautiful scenery and wildlife, but the slower pace means they stay longer and spend more. Malin Head is the main attraction in Inishowen they have evidence of 200 customers choosing to visit Malin Head by cycle rather than driving. As the Wild Atlantic Way develops the judges hope that more visitors will be encouraged to cycle, this is a small beginning.
Silver: Rock Farm Slane www.rockfarmslane.ie
Rock Farm Slane is a glamping campsite and activity centre which offers a fleet of electric and hybrid bicycles and which goes out of its way to encourage its clients to arrive by public transport. As they pointed out in their application “Travelling on public transport requires more time, better planning and can be challenging for young families. So we have to convince our visitors and guests to do the same. This requires innovative marketing and incentives to motivate guests to make the extra effort to minimise the impact of their travel.” They have come a long way since the business opened in 2013 - the judges are interested to see how their approach develops overt the next few years.
Best for Responsible Tourism in a Marine or Coastal Environment
Awarded to a business, destination or community that have a specific approach or project that demonstrates responsible tourism in a marine or coastal environment. While nominations are sought from activity related businesses, such as kayaking, wildlife encounters, scuba-diving and surfing, this category is also open to nominations from other businesses, communities and destination development organisations that operate in a marine environment.

Gold: Dolphin Watch www.dolphinwatch.ie
Dolphin Watch are leaders in responsible wildlife watching having backed the case for a more responsible approach in the industry for many years, and were regional pioneers in this respect. They are dedicated to the conservation of the resident group of Bottlenose Dolphins at the Mouth of the River Shannon and the protection of their habitat. They have a very comprehensive set of environmentally sustainable practices ranging from recycling engine oil and paper through energy and waste management to cleaning products and practices. They support the efforts of marine scientists by providing a platform for their work and by educating the public in how to watch wildlife responsibly. The judges were impressed by the wide range of Responsible Tourism initiatives Dolphin Watch takes alongside its exemplary wildlife watching practices and it advocacy for this more responsible approach.
Silver: Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours  www.marinetours.ie
The team at Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours got excellent references for their “deep understanding of marine ecosystems and hands on approach in making sure the general public get to experience as much of the area as possible” with strong conservation content. Originating as a commercial fishing operation Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours is a fine example of how the transition to conservation and tourism can provide sustainable livelihoods and provide very satisfying work and experiences for visitors. In three years the business has grown to carry 5,000 visitors a year, the judges are interested to see how the business develops as it launches its second boat this year.
Silver: Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre & Nature Reserve www.traleebaywetlands.org
Committed to developing Tralee Bay as an ecotourism destination, the Wetlands Centre has established the North Kerry Ecotourism network to develop tourism in the area. Originally a landfill dump site the ecological restoration of this degraded site has been a success for wildlife and conservation. The Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre has taken a very broad approach to addressing its sustainability; the judges were impressed by its plans for the development of the area through the North Kerry Ecotourism network and look forward to see how the tourism dimension of its work grows.
Best Destination for Responsible Tourism
Awarded to a destination setting an inspiring example for responsible tourism - this can include a village, town, city or region - places that use tourism to make better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit. The winning destination will consider their community and environment to be at the heart of a memorable experience for visitors. Where the destination engages in promotion it promotes responsible holiday experiences that celebrate and protect the best of their destination. Particular consideration will be given to those destinations making the best use of the resources available to them.
Gold: Loop Head Peninsula www.loophead.ie
Three parishes work together in a network of over 50 businesses committed to developing the area in keeping with its landscape, culture and heritage. They have demonstrated that by working together a community can use tourism to achieve its purposes. They campaigned to prevent the opening of a café or craft shop at the lighthouse ensuring that these opportunities were for the local community; and they fought to prevent the widening of the roads that would have brought coach based tourism. Loop Head has demonstrated that a community can use tourism for its sustainable development rather than allowing tourism to use it. Their approach is to ensure that it is the local community that benefits from the forms of tourism which they encourage. They wrote in their application: “Our businesses and the people that work within them are the local community. They are the parents of the children who attend the local schools and shop in the local shops and make use of the local services.” Loop Head is an excellent example of how by working together a community can achieve the Responsible Tourism aspiration of using tourism to make better places to live in and better places to visit”; in that order.
As one of there referees wrote “With a strong focus on local foods, local geography and maximising local natural amenities, the Loop Head personnel have swiftly created a valuable identity, and the beginnings of a successful tourism brand. Their branding is very distinctive and strong, and there is also a strong sense of collective cohesion and unity with a design to promoting the region for the benefit of the local population, and doing so in a planned, sustainable way.”
Silver: Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark www.burren.ie
EU Life funding has enabled the creation of the Burren Ecotourism Network comprised of 30 tourism businesses and the development of the Burren Food Trail, heritage trails and the Burren Activity Trail. Ecotourism and awareness training are at the heart of the brand and of the code of practice. They use the European Tourism Indicator System and are very strong on training and standards, 34 tourism enterprises have to date implemented and improved environmental standards to a point that enabled them obtain independent, third-party certification; supported by four full-time and two part-time staff.
Silver: Sheep’s Head and Bantry Tourism Co-operative https://livingthesheepsheadway.com/
A marketing co-operative established in 2013 to bring together over 100 tourism businesses to develop a strong brand and marketing campaign to ensure that full benefit is derived from their position on the Wild Atlantic Way. They have successfully persuaded local businesses to promote the area as a whole, rather than just their own product, in order to extend length to stay and to increase yield for the area. They are encouraging walking and cycling and developing initiatives to reduce food miles.
Silver: Mulranny Community Futures https://mulranny.ie
Mulranny is a honeypot tourist centre with abundant natural and built heritage. Mayo County Council began the process of preparing a Village Design Statement for Mulranny in order to guide the future development of the village. On the Greenway and the Wild Atlantic Way, with the 6km Fáilte Ireland Loop Walk through 3 Natura sites, with a €1.7m project to construct the Mulranny Promenade and with the establishment of the National Herd of Old Irish Goats in 2014, Mulranny has benefited from significant investment in its tourism infrastructure. Mulranny Community Futures has 24 members and works with a host of organisations in the village including Mulranny Environmental Group, the Old Irish Goat Society and Tidy Towns. Partners include the Heritage Council, Mayo County Council, South West Mayo Development Company, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, an Taisce, the Smurfit Genetic Institute, UCD and the American Ireland Fund.
Best Cultural Heritage Attraction for Responsible Tourism
Awarded to a tourism attraction or experience that is designed to protect and promote the heritage of a community, integrating principles of responsible tourism into every aspect of their operation. The winner will be an inspirational example of a memorable and enjoyable attraction where the traditions and culture of a community are at the heart of an experience.

Gold: Cnoc Suain www.cnocsuain.com
Cnoc Suain (restful hill), a restored 17th century hill-village set in 200 acres of Connemara’s ancient bogland which offers day experiences and immersive residential programmes which enable visitors to explore Irish culture. The day experience for groups provides an introduction to Irish music, song & storytelling, to the Gaelic language & poetry and to the natural heritage of bogland. They also offer a residential programme an immersion into the landscape, food and culture of Connemara. The judges were impressed by the breadth and depth of the cultural and natural heritage experience offered by Cnoc Suain. They have an extensive sustainability policy which encompasses the environmental, social and economic dimension; with a particular emphasis on the interdependence between local people and the surrounding environment, and the evolution of Irish traditional culture through that relationship.

They describe Responsible Tourism eloquently in their application: “Responsible travellers and locals share experiences – discovering each other’s culture, getting to understand their cultural differences and common humanity. Visitors also gain an appreciation of the natural environment in which local people live.

Responsible tourism contributes to the well-being of local communities and the preservation of local cultural, natural and built heritage. The income generated by this type of tourism filters down through the local economy. The traveller gains a 'head full' of experiences, memories and stories to tell, and a camera full of images to show family, friends and colleagues back home. Visitors also have the satisfaction of knowing their money will help make a difference to a local society.”

Silver: Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange & Knowth) www.newgrange.com/visitor.htm

Newgrange and related monuments in Brú na Bóinne were designated as a World Heritage Site in 1993. As one of their referees pointed out ensuring a high quality visitor experience has always been top priority for the management and all staff at the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre where they take a consistent approach to ensuring the sustainable and long term management of the 5,000 year old Newgrange & Knowth monuments for the benefit of local people, visitors, businesses and for generations into the future. They have successfully managed increasing pressure from visitor numbers (close to 250,000 in 2014) through the visitor centre and provided community benefit through employment, engagement with local crafts people and schools. The site was threatened by visitor pressure in the 1990s but with World Heritage status and a new visitor centre and management plan the interests of tourism, the heritage site and the local community have been successfully balanced.

Silver: Mizen Head Signal Station Visitor Centre www.mizenhead.ie
In a remote and unpopulated area of Ireland the Visitor Centre interprets for the visitor the landscape and rock formations, provides a small number of jobs and boosts the business of local pubs, shops and hotels. Situated on the Wild Atlantic Way and surrounded by stunning coastal scenery the Visitor Centre ensures that visitors are made aware of the unique cultural features of life in West Cork, the marine cultural and lighthouse heritage.

Best Local Food Initiative for Responsible Tourism
Awarded to a food-related business or organisation that can demonstrate an approach to the production or sourcing of food based on responsible tourism principles. This could include restaurants, cafes, artisan food producers, country markets and collaborative groups or food trails within a destination. Within the museum there is a section on local crafts and the Visitor Centre is a focus for local food, culture and music festivals.

Gold: Archways B&B www.thearchways.ie
Since 2010 Archways has been transformed with solar water heating, biomass heating, gentle but insistent reminders about towel and linen use and the next venture is aquaponics for freshwater fish rearing. The food is very local: homemade sausages, locally dry cured bacon, very local free range hens and ducks eggs from local neighbours, and local cheeses and hams, Bacon and Strawberry Chilli jams, local fruit, vegetables and salads, local lamb, pork and Limousin Wagyu Beef, and in the absence of rice barley risotto. They have proved that local sourcing need not adversely affect either quality or variety, quite the contrary, they are in the Michelin Red Guide.. The judges were impressed by how far the environmental and food agenda have been pushed in a small B&B - this is a very responsible and replicable business model.

Silver: Burren Smokehouse www.burrensmokehouse.ie
Since 1989 they have been practising the ancient tradition of oak smoking salmon, trout, mackerel and eel. Burren Geopark Certified they practice reduce, reuse and recycle and play an active part in running the Burren Slow Food Festival. The Burren Brewery and Roadside Tavern Gastropub followed 4 years ago. The Gastro Pub Brewpub serves locally produced food – Burren Beef, Lamb, Burren Smoked Salmon, Burren grown organic vegetables pairing it with the Burren Black Stout, Burren Gold Lager and Burren Red Ale. They also offer an educational programme for schools and booked groups.

Silver: Orchard Acre Farm www.orchardacrefarm.co.uk
The south facing Eco Barn designed for energy conservation, with solar hot water, electricity from wind power this business has very strong environmental credentials. Their “Plot to Plate” story celebrates, educates and nourishes people using its own food resources. For Orchard Acre Farm the tourism facing food business was a farm diversification - “Responsible and eco-tourism has enabled us to uphold our beliefs in sustainability, whilst being able to offer our tourism services and without compromise.” Experiential learning activities on food topics, for groups as diverse as hen parties and school groups are their main source of revenue. An accredited centre of learning in horticulture they also work closely with drugs and alcohol rehabilitation programmes to provide therapeutic placements using horticulture and their “Plot to Plate” programme.
Best Adventure Activity Provider for Responsible Tourism

Awarded to an inspirational activity provider that can demonstrate their business is based on principles of responsible tourism and is making their community a better place to live in and to visit.\|

Gold: Atlantic Sea Kayaking & Wild Atlantic Way Walks www.atlanticseakayaking.com
For 20 years Atlantic Sea Kayaking has sustained the Kennedy’s family business. In order to provide an environmentally friendly way to live and make a living in a beautiful part of the world, they took to West Cork and the marine environment to be as sustainable and self-sufficient as possible. They pioneered sea kayaking in Ireland and have since become leaders in its activity sector. Atlantic Sea Kayaking operates in a range of locations, such as the very ecologically sensitive environment of Lough Hyne, Europe’s oldest marine reserve, as well as along the fragile ecosystems of West Corks islands and inlets. Their environmental philosophy is to respect, enjoy and protect the unique environment in which they work. Conscious of being guardians of the marine habitat, they use their knowledge of the local environment to ensure that fellow kayakers and water users appreciate not just its beauty, but also its fragility and its importance. They have been international ambassadors for Cork and Ireland in the activity tourism sector and played an instrumental role in securing the Adventure Summit for Ireland in 2014. As part of this role, they are stringent promoters of safety and training within the activity sector.

They run a rich programme including sea weed awareness tours, are guest presenters at Electric Picnic which is building an awareness of all things sustainable to a new young audience. Their tours feature marine life, seaweeds, music and local organic food. They visit schools and offer classes on the rock pools and how we can conserve water in our houses and in everyday life, and run regular summer camps for young people. This is a company which is constantly innovating, this year introducing traditional Currachs to their fleet not only to maintain their profile but also to promote Cork’s heritage.

Silver: Boyne Valley Activities www.boynevalleyactivities.ie
A founding member of Ecotourism Meath the company was silver certified by EcoTourism Ireland last year. The company runs kayaking, rafting and innovative medieval river tours on the River Boyne, floating down river with a guide, following the paths of our ancestors gives the visitor a real feel of the scale of the castles and monuments along the way. They describe their goal as deliver a unique fun filled experience to our visitors by way of an interactive tour that will immerse them in the culture and heritage of our region, responsibly, and with a minimum impact to our environment. They are contributing to the community by coaching the canoe club and providing access to work experience and, on a national basis; they have spearheaded The Boyne Canoe Trail, the first of its kind in the Republic of Ireland. The company is also wholly committed to river conservation, monitoring and auditing the river, in association with National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Silver: Life Adventure Centre www.onegreatadventure.com
The Life Adventure Centre grew 20% in 2015, they use renewably produced electricity, use a biomass boiler for space heating and hot water, and use multi-seat vehicles for transport to reduce fuel consumption.. The centre provides hill walking, canoeing, rock climbing, kayaking, mountain biking and wilderness survival techniques. In addition to providing adventure activities for tourists and day visitors they also provide taster opportunities for local adults, summer camps for young people and taster events for local schools, and provide complimentary use of the centre and facilities including local activity and sports clubs running local events. They employ the principles of Leave No Trace and Fair Trade and purchase locally.

Overall winner 2015 Irish Responsible Tourism Awards
Atlantic Sea Kayaking & Wild Atlantic Way Walks www.atlanticseakayaking.com
Acknowledging that there are many international class Responsible Tourism businesses amongst the winners this year, and that it was a very difficult choice, the judges felt that it was appropriate in the first year of the Irish Responsible Tourism Awards to recognise, as overall winner, Atlantic Sea Kayaking & Wild Atlantic Way Walks, pioneers of Responsible Tourism and international ambassadors for Ireland.

The Awards are not an accreditation scheme; they are not about certifying an organisation as responsible. The judges seek to identify and celebrate innovation, to inspire change in the industry, and to recognise organisations that demonstrate best practice. The judges and the organisers want the Awards to be the place to share stories about those organisations leading the way in Responsible Tourism. The judges can only consider those organisations which have been nominated and which take the time to complete the extensive questionnaire necessary to the judging process. On the judging day there was considerable debate about who should win in each category, it was a very strong field and it is hoped that many of those who have won gold or silver in the Irish Awards will nominate themselves for the 2015 World Responsible Tourism Awards.

Nominations are open for the 2015 World Responsible Tourism Awards. Please encourage the gold and silver Irish Responsible Tourism Award winners to entre for the World Responsible Tourism Awards www.responsibletravel.com/awards/

The judges look for examples of responsible practice which will excite interest and help us to drive the Responsible Tourism agenda forward, we particularly look for examples which will inspire and which are replicable. The judges look for examples of Responsible Tourism in practice that have some, or all, of the following characteristics:

• Demonstrate the application of Responsible Tourism in taking responsibility for making tourism more sustainable across the triple bottom line, addressing economic, social and environmental issues.

• Credible evidence of having exercised responsibility based on the questionnaires we send out to all those who make the long-list and the references that we take up.

• Novelty –we want organisations with original ideas, innovative approaches to solving problems in sustainable tourism, and unique initiatives that drive the Responsible Tourism agenda forward.

• A track record – proven results, demonstrable achievements illustrated with real data, well recorded metrics and detailed information about investment of time, effort and resources in Responsible Tourism initiatives.

• Replicability – practices and initiatives that are inspirational and have the potential to be applied elsewhere, adaptable concepts and ideas that could have an impact beyond their own business.

• Local focus – Responsible Tourism is not limited to a tick list of key requirements, we are interested in practices that address local issues and provide solutions with the local community in mind.

Competition for the 2015 Irish Responsible Tourism Awards was stiff and those who made the it through to the final round of judging, and many of those who did not, are worthy of commendation for their achievements. The judges will not be providing feedback on individual applications - the purpose of these notes on the winners is to explain why they were selected and to indicate what the judges are looking for. We would encourage everyone to consider entering again in the Irish Awards, those who have won gold or silver this year as previous winners are required to demonstrate that something significant has been achieved since the last time they were recognised in the Awards, it is tough to win a second or third time.

As Paddy Matthews Fáilte Ireland Brand Experience Manager, pointed out during the Awards process ,
“A more environmentally conscious and community-centred approach to developing tourism in Ireland is becoming more and more mainstream... and so it should. It results in more genuine and authentic experiences for all our visitors.”

The Judges for the 2015 Irish Responsible Tourism Awards were
Chair of Judges: Professor Harold Goodwin, Manchester Metropolitans University
Annabel Fitzgerald (Coastal Programmes Manager An Taisce)
Catherine Fulvio (Ballyknocken House & Cookery School)
Kevin Griffin (DIT tourism lecturer and former-EDEN awards judge)
Peter Krahenbuhl (former Tourism for Tomorrow judge)
Catherine Mack (responsibletravel.com)
Paddy Mathews (Fáilte Ireland)
Ruth Morgan (Environmental Policy Officer, Tourism Northern Ireland
David Owen (ex-UNEP Tourism)
In 2015 there were 450 nominations from across Ireland for the eight Awards. The judges considered each category in great detail, using a broad list of criteria that needed to be met by nominees that were shortlisted. If you were not shortlisted, this does not mean that the judges do not value your business or organisation and we encourage you to apply again next year. And if you were shortlisted, but did not win, please keep up the great work, and feel free to apply again next year - this year’s winners have the disadvantage next year of having had to find something new to accomplish in 2015-6 .

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