Call For Submission: Prestigious Awards to Recognize True Leaders In Authentic Ecotourism 

From accommodation, destinations to NGOs, the search is on for ecotourism champions around the world to participate in the Asian Ecotourism Network International Ecotourism Awards—an inaugural award presentation by the regional Asian Ecotourism Network

  • 06:01 AM, 14 Sep, 2022

(8 September 2022, Bangkok) On the back of promoting ecotourism values, standards and education, the Asian Ecotourism Network (AEN) has launched a new initiative to recognize leadership in the ecotourism industry. 

The AEN has rolled out the International Ecotourism Awards to recognize accommodation, destinations including communities, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that exhibit exemplary practices in authentic ecotourism. The award is designed to meet the specific criteria of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) recognized AEN Ecotourism Standard for Accommodation and the GSTC-Recognized Standards for Destination.

The AEN International Ecotourism Awards also aim to recognize the tangible examples of ecotourism good practices that can be replicated and adapted across the region. Owners and managers of accommodation in natural areas may enter this ecotourism award if the accommodation reflects a unique nature-culture balance in its infrastructural design, innovation and management, while addressing sustainable development challenges. 

The regional network was first established in June 2015 by ecotourism leaders in the Asia Pacific. Masaru Takayama, Chairperson of the AEN (pictured right) since its inception, said: “We have been in ecotourism for a long time, thus we wanted to create this award for recipients to be evaluated based on the STC[1]recognized standard under the various categories.” 

The AEN International Ecotourism Awards are up for grabs in these categories:

1. Destination Governance

2. Sustainable Building

3. Community Benefit

4. Climate Action

5. Biodiversity Conservation

6. Waste Management

7. Ecotourism Promotion

8. Environment Leadership

9. Innovative Ecotourism

10. Community Champion

Destination management responsibility or governance between the public and private sector applies under the Destination Governance category. Furthermore, destination managers can consider entering the Community Benefit, Climate Action, Biodiversity Conservation categories, and more. Accommodation submissions by resorts and lodges can go beyond the Sustainable Building category to areas of Community Benefit, Climate Action, Biodiversity Conservation (terrestrial and aquatic), Waste Management, Ecotourism Promotion, and Innovative Ecotourism.

Apart from homestays, resorts and lodges in nature areas, communities and NGOs are also encouraged to seize this opportunity to share their ecotourism achievements. In the Community Champion category, effective management or business development practices to promote the village or destination concerned as a tourist attraction are sought after. Alternatively, community-led environmental conservation is of interest.

Ary S. Suhandi, Vice Chair of AEN, (pictured right) hopes to receive submissions from communities on their leadership in environmental conservation. “The IEA is a rare opportunity to get recognized and promote your outstanding works to the region, as well as to inspire others on ecotourism,” he said. 

“I believe it would be rewarding for local communities and NGOs to join this Award, and more importantly to join the AEN. It will not just launch you to the regional network of ecotourism enthusiasts, but also open up partnership and market opportunities,” added Suhandi, who is also the founder and director of the Indonesian Ecotourism Network or Indecon.

The AEN is represented by 21-member countries in the Asia Pacific region that work towards connecting ecotourism stakeholders for knowledge transfer, consulting, marketing, and business development to achieve sustainability for people and the planet. The AEN is a regional initiative of the Global Ecotourism Network.

Eligibility for award participation is open to any organisation internationally, not just members of the AEN. This is to ensure inclusivity and diversity among ecotourism practitioners that could be either well-established or new stakeholders. “Ecotourism helps improve the local welfare, encourage local guardianship behaviour, while protecting the nature. This award would not only help the concerned stakeholders to recognize good ecotourism practices in the world, but also hold the potential to stimulate sustainable actions towards strengthening the three pillars of ecotourism i.e., benefit to environment, benefit to communities and interpretation,” said Takayama.

The AEN-IEA Finalists will be announced at the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Conference to be held in December 2022 in Seville, Spain. The Winner will be awarded at the International Ecotourism Travel Mart 2023 to be held from 28 March to 1 April 2023 in the Philippines.

Selection criteria, guidelines and fees can be found on AEN website. Entries must be submitted by midnight of 21 September 2022 (IST/GMT+7).  Inquiries can be made to the awards secretariat by email at

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