National Geographic World Legacy Awards - Judging

Awamaki, Peru

"Our goal is to help indigenous women lift themselves, their families, and their communities out of poverty through sustainable tourism, allowing visitors to truly immerse in Quechua culture and transcend typical travel experiences."

- Kennedy Leavens, Executive Director

What does it mean for you to be selected as a World Legacy Awards Finalist?

This recognition means so much to our nonprofit organization and to the Quechua women artisans and hosts who work so hard to create incredible, meaningful experiences for travelers who visit villages in the Sacred Valley of the Incas of Peru. Working with Andean cooperatives, we provide education, skills, and opportunities that help local women transform themselves into strong, independent businesses while creating immersive cultural experiences for travelers. Being selected as a World Legacy Awards Finalist shows that these efforts are paying off and allows us to become an example of sustainability to other villages and tour operators in Peru - demonstrating that bringing unique tourism opportunities to visitors can also have a significant positive impact on host communities.

Why is sustainable tourism important to Awamaki?

Because our location is so close to Machu Picchu, tourism is very active in our town. Yet we also see many women in rural areas being left behind by the tourism economy. Sustainable tourism offers a way to connect the rural poor to economic opportunities without requiring villagers to leave their homes, culture, and way of life. Every day we see the incredible, positive effects of sustainable tourism on the lives of the women with whom we work. They have become confident, successful entrepreneurs who make a good living and provide for their families. That is the power of sustainable tourism.

What sustainable tourism accomplishment are you most proud of in your work?

We are proud to say that on average, a woman earns $650 per year from our sustainable tourism partnership. This represents a significant portion of her family's annual income, empowering her to send her children to school, eat a nutritious diet, access healthcare, and make improvements to her home. Travelers see these benefits first-hand through homestays in rural villages and by participating in traditional crafts workshops, cooking classes, and other immersive experiences. Rather than viewing local culture as bystanders, visitors are able to truly connect with Quechua families, heritage, and communities. In fact, about 90 percent of travelers in 2016 said the experience our partnership made possible was memorable and a definite highlight of their trip to Peru.

City of Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

"Our city's unique multicultural story, and the quality of our artistic, spiritual and sustainable traditions touch and inspire visitors deeply. Safeguarding this rich heritage is a duty, and an honor."

- Randy Randall, Executive Director

What does it mean for you to be selected as a World Legacy Awards Finalist?

National Geographic has long been the standard bearer for global cultural reporting. Being selected as a Finalist is a special honor for Santa Fe, a city with multiculturalism at its heart, and a spirited dedication to preserving all traditional elements of our culture while embracing new progressive ideas in arts and sustainability. World Legacy Awards recognition is a powerful confirmation, on an international stage, that the sacrifices we've made to preserve, protect, and produce the culture envisioned by those who came before us have been exactly the right decisions for now, and for the future. Santa Feans are notably eager to share their treasures with visitors. So as the global community reckons with 21st century realities that must be addressed, this honor is a high-profile way to share our principles of authentic and genuine cultural preservation - from the buildings we live and work in to the food we eat to the festivities we celebrate.

Why is sustainable tourism important to the City of Santa Fe?

A longstanding tradition of preserving our natural assets and culture is at the core of who we are and how we share our city with visitors. For us, sustainable tourism is a continuous process of monitoring impacts and actively introducing preventative and corrective measures to create and sustain the authentic, genuine resources of our destination. The City of Santa Fe and our tourism partners are passionately involved in this every day. We are caretakers of our city, a committedly progressive community, and we want to use the most efficient and effective means to make a Santa Fe visit as positive as possible for everyone involved, locally, nationally and globally.

What sustainable tourism accomplishment are you most proud of in your work?

The historic preservation of our downtown area, from the plaza outward, is our most visible, foundational achievement. From a more modern, ecological, and measurable standpoint, we would point to our Green Lodging initiative. Shortly after being enacted it resulted in 1.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity (356 metric tons of Carbon Dioxide) saved, 1.55 million gallons of water saved, 2,000 pounds of toxic waste eliminated, 1,700 tons of solid waste diverted from landfills, and 300 tons of recycling generated. This dual focus on state-of-the-art sustainable practices and vigilant preservation of our legendary past defines Santa Fe tourism and our unique sense of place.

Adventure Canada, Canada

"Decades of partnering with local communities and First Peoples in Canada's most remote regions has shown the transformative power of sustainable travel on our own family business, families who travel, and families who share their cultures with our guests."

- Cedar Swan, CEO

What does it mean for you to be selected as a World Legacy Awards Finalist?

As a small family-run company, Adventure Canada has always tried to lead by example, feeling that our relationships, ideals, and actions should define us. For thirty years, we have strived to make trailblazing contributions to Canadian tourism by elevating appreciation of local heritage within travelers and indigenous communities themselves. We know the World Legacy Awards foster real efforts to develop sustainable travel business models and philosophies, so we are delighted with this recognition. We hope that our success can be an example that encourages others to consider sustainability, cultural understanding, and depth of engagement as guiding principles for a travel business. For us, every trip is a collaboration between our company, our guests, our business partners, and the communities we visit; to be honored as a Finalist reflects the spirit of those collaborations in the most profound way.

Why is sustainable tourism important to Adventure Canada?

We work hard to be the positive change we want to see - doing what we do because we love and believe in it. Our work with Canada's First Peoples in remote and sensitive environments continually reminds us that sustainability needs to be a key principle in any tourism endeavor. It is one of the most immediate and lasting ways to create stakeholders for some of our planet's most fragile places. We love the adventurous spirit, curiosity, and openness to change displayed by travelers and hosts who choose sustainable tourism. We are invested in growing the positive impact sustainable travel can have on many avenues of life - our relationships, our conversations, our investments, and our daily choices.

What sustainable tourism accomplishment are you most proud of in your work?

After three decades of pioneering expedition cruising in the remote coastlines of Canada's East, West and North, we are most proud of having created and supported a legion of ambassadors for the Arctic. This includes not only our travelers, but also our Inuit partners, providers, culturalists, and guides - as well as the renowned scientists, artists, writers, and musicians who have been moved by our trips and returned as passionate advocates for the exceptional nature and culture of the Canadian Arctic.

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