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Friday, November 7, 2008

Amigos de Sian Ka'an is awarded the 2008 Global Vision Award - Congratulations

Travel changes everything: it supports communities, restructures economies, protects environments, and preserves our cultural heritage. In 2008, this has never been more certain. As they do every year, T+L’s Global Vision Awards celebrate the people and organizations that are transforming the places we go—the traveler’s terrain. In the past 12 months, the landscape of responsible tourism has changed significantly, making this year’s winners—from a hotel mega-brand and three sisters in Nepal to forward-thinking conservationists in Mexico’s Riviera Maya—the most remarkable group of travel visionaries yet. We applaud them. They’re shaping the world, and our future.

Ecological Conservation


The beginning of this tale is familiar: a prime swath of beachfront, untouched and filled with rare species such as jaguars and Morelet’s crocodiles, catches the eye of developers, who begin erecting luxury resorts up and down the coast. But the story of Mexico’s Sian Ka’an Biosphere, along the Riviera Maya just 81 miles from Cancún, has a happier ending, thanks to the work of a group of forward-thinking locals, the Amigos de Sian Ka’an (ASK). With the guidance of the Nature Conservancy, the United Nations Foundation, Conservation International, and UNESCO, ASK has used tourism (as well as scientific research) to help protect the 1.3 million acres of tropical forests, mangroves, and coral reefs that form Sian Ka’an. Since 1986, the organization has helped to fund and support successful community-based tourism projects, such as snorkeling and birding tours, whose profits go back into local economies and conservation efforts. Most recently, ASK began collaborating with area hotels and cruise lines that dock in the Riviera Maya to find ways to lessen their impact on the region’s fragile ecosystems. As ASK widens its efforts throughout the province of Quintana Roo, it is sending a powerful message around the globe: development doesn’t have to come at the expense of the environment

By Amy Farley, Sarah Kantrowitz, Stirling M. Kelso, Clara Sedlak, Jennifer Welbel, Yolanda Crous, Jaime Gross, Darrell Hartman and Suzanne Mozes (Travel + Leisure Magazine)