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Feynan Ecolodge shortlisted for int’l ecotourism award

By JT - Jan 21,2015 - Last updated at Jan 21,2015

AMMAN — The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) on Monday announced the finalists in its Tourism for Tomorrow Award 2015, with Feynan Ecolodge shortlisted in the Community Award category.

The recognition comes just three months after the ecolodge was announced as a finalist in National Geographic’s inaugural World Legacy Awards, according to a statement sent to The Jordan Times.

Both the awards “highlight the success of Feynan in providing opportunities for income in areas where the local bedouin communities live a traditional life and are affected by poverty”. 

The WTTC awards aim to transform the travel and tourism industry by educating and inspiring travel and tourism businesses and destinations on how to improve the sustainability of the sector, the statement said. 

The annual awards recognise best practices based on the principles of environmentally friendly operations; support for the protection of cultural and natural heritage; and direct benefits to the social and economic well-being of local people in travel destinations around the world. 

In 2015, 158 applications were received from 57 countries, with the winners to be announced at the WTTC’s April 15-16 Global Summit in Madrid.

Feynan Ecolodge was shortlisted as one of three finalists in the “Community Award” category for using ecotourism to benefit the local communities who live around the Kingdom’s Dana Biosphere Reserve, the statement said. 

Feynan Ecolodge was also named one of the top 25 ecolodges in the world by National Geographic Traveller Magazine in 2013 and highly commended for poverty reduction at the Responsible Tourism Awards in 2011.

The 26-room solar-powered lodge has “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”, the statement said. 

Guests at the lodge are also invited to learn about bedouin traditions from local families, discover the natural landscape with local trained eco-guides or even spend a day with a shepherd herding goats in the hills.

The ecolodge directly benefits over 80 families (400 people) around the Dana reserve, using policies such as hiring exclusively local staff, purchasing products from businesses in the area and housing two workshops onsite that employ local women to make candles and leather handicrafts that are used and sold at the lodge.

Last year, over 50 per cent of the money spent by tourists at Feynan stayed within the local community, according to the statement.

Yehya Khaled, director general of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), which is responsible for Dana Biosphere Reserve and owns Feynan Ecolodge, welcomed the recognition.

“Local community development is central to RSCN’s work throughout our network of eight reserves across the Kingdom,” the statement quoted Khaled as saying. “Recognition from this award is really important in raising awareness about the positive impact that sustainable tourism can bring to Jordan.”

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