Four tourist destinations named best worldwide

June 8, 2004 (Washington, D.C.) Conservation International (CI) and National Geographic Traveler magazine announced today the winners of the 2004 World Legacy Award, given to environmental and social leaders in tourism. The award will be presented to four winners at a ceremony hosted by Her Majesty Queen Noor tonight at the National Geographic Society world headquarters in Washington.

The winners operate in the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Barbados, and Indonesia, and are considered the best examples in the tourism industry of the ideal balance between nature conservation, the protection of heritage sites, social responsibility and commerce.

One winner was named in each of four categories: Nature Travel, Heritage Tourism, General Purpose Hotels and Resorts, and Destination Stewardship. Applicants from more than 40 countries on six continents were considered.

"Travel and tourism is the largest industry on the planet. In some countries, tourism has grown more than 1,000 percent over the past decade. If we are not careful, tourism will end up hurting the very places tourists want to experience," said Costas Christ, senior director of CI's Ecotourism Department. "These winners are outstanding examples of responsible tourism that helps to protect nature and promotes the well-being of local people."

The winner of the Nature Travel Award, given to a company making significant contributions to the conservation of natural areas and biodiversity, is the Al Maha Desert Resort in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In a region where the desert environment has come under increasing pressure from modern highways and other development, the Resort successfully lobbied the government to create a reserve representing nearly five percent of Dubai's land area. Visitors to the Resort, designed as a Bedouin camp, can explore the desert on camels, observe some of the 33 indigenous mammal and reptile species (including the threatened Arabian ory

Contact: Brad Phillips
Conservation International

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