2009 Indigenous Tourism and Biodiversity Website Award

Winners have been announced for the Indigenous Tourism and Biodiversity Website Award 2009! For all of the details about the award, visit Planeta.com's award page or consult the brochure announcing the winners, available here.

The winners of the award are showcased below, on Planeta.com and during a press conference at the Reisepavillion - International Fair for Alternative Travel, in Munich, on Thursday 26 February 2009.

The award and its winners are also presented in Pachamama, Volume 3 - Issue 3, a widely distributed CBD publication.


Jury Selection

The winner of the judged 2009 ITBW Award is Guurrbi Tours (Australia)

Highlights on the website are features on Aboriginal Art Conservation and the Bama Way Map. Guurrbi also uses a variety of Web 2.0 tools to communicate with a wide audience, including potential visitors and local Aboriginal youth who otherwise had not come across Willie's work. Highlights include videos on YouTube and a Facebook account which connect Willie to potential clients and to local Aboriginal youth.

Comments by voters

"The site is tastefully simple, informative and easy to navigate. I enjoyed the Guurrbi News blog updates, photo galleries, and videos - to learn about Willie and the people he touches. I thought that these tools are being used effectively on the Guurrbi website to share Willie's storytelling experience online."

"Guurrbi tours is unique in the world. Willie promotes greater understanding of Traditional indigenous australia in a special way, that goes beyond the surface, resulting in 'guests' examining their own lives and relationships with their fellow humans."

Popular Vote

The winner of the popular count 2009 ITBW Award is Indigenous Trails (New Zealand)

Highlights on the website include the company's policy promoting sustainability, responsible travel and a review of Maori Legends.

Web 2.0 highlights include videos on YouTube and a gallery of photos on Flickr.

Comments by voters

"Indigenous Trails ... embodies the Indigenous values and create connections between the Indigenous people of NZ and all their clients. I still live on these personal interactions and experiences. Another fact that I think really speaks for Indigenous Trails is there Volunteer program. Through this program many young people get an unique insight on how the indigenous people in NZ live and work."

"Indigenous Trails ... The design of web page seems represent well the Maori spiritual and earthy lifestyle projected as part of their tour. Our touring experience with this group was a learning experience with very positive results. Hence this website reminds us of the extra steps taken by this group to make our visit to New Zealand a special and memorable one."

Runners up - Jury Selection

Runners up - Popular Vote


All applicants are winners! In fact, by participating in the 2009 Indigenous Tourism and Biodiversity Website Award, nominees have demonstrated that they care for the promotion of sustainable practices through their websites, and for the education of visitors on cultural protocols and biodiversity conservation. According to a participant, the award is: "a great opportunity to further grow a business community and contacts. For us it certainly is more than just an award but when looking at other applicants websites, it makes us want to experience what other indigenous tourism have to offer".

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Bookabee Tours (Australia) is a family owned and operated business specializing in authentic Aboriginal experiences in Adelaide, South Australia and through the outback.

Chalalán Ecolodge (Bolivia) is located in a tropical Andean hotspot, the site hosts 45,000 different plant species and more than 1,000 tropical bird species.

Great Spirit Circle Trail (Canada) encompasses eight First Nation communities on Manitoulin Island and the Sagamok region in Northeastern Ontario, Canada.

Guurrbi Tours (Australia) is run by Nugal-warra story-keeper Willie Gordon who keeps his ancestral rock art alive by sharing its stories with guests near Cooktown, Queensland.

Huit Huit Tours (Canada) offers a variety of eco-culture trips in Cape Dorset and the south Baffin region. Inuit art and culture are a focus of town tours.

Indigenous Trails (New Zealand) holds strategic alliances with other Maori tourism operators, providing cultural travel experiences that are out of reach for most visitors to Aotearoa.

It's Wild! Bush Camps (Zambia) is owned by the Mwanya and Chifunda communities in Zambia's Luangwa Valley through a program called Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO).

Kapawi Amazon Ecolodge (Ecuador) is located in one of the most remote and well protected parts of the Amazon deep in the nearly two million acres of the Achuar people's territory.

Magic Mara Safaris (Kenya) is named for the Maasai tribespeople and the Mara River which divides it in the Masai Mara, a large park reserve.

Nguna - Pele Marine Protected Area (Vanuatu) is an indigenous, organization made up of sixteen communities on two islands dedicated to the sustainable use and long-term existence of marine and terrestrial resources.

Ricancie (Ecuador) is an organization of nine Quichua-Communities in the Sumaco Biosphere Reserve on the Upper Río Napo offering an eco-tourism program and possibilities for cultural exchange.

Sani Lodge (Ecuador) is owned and operated by Sani Isla Kichwa community in Ecuador's Amazon.

Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre (Canada) shares the cultural practices of coastal and interior salish peoples. The center offers personalized guided cultural tours, indigenous performance arts and language programming, ethnobotanical walks and indigenous culinary tastings.

TIME Unlimited NZ Tours and Travel (New Zealand) provides unique and high quality Maori Cultural Tours.

Tjapukai Aboriginal Culture Park (Australia) is located in Queensland.

First Indigenous Tourism and Biodiversity Website Award 2009

As a complementary project to the CBD workshop series, the Secretariat of the CBD, in partnership with the Planeta.com, and the generous support of the government of Spain, created the first Indigenous Tourism and Biodiversity Website Award. The award is presented to an indigenous tourism operation for having a website that promotes sustainable practices and educates visitors on cultural protocols and biodiversity conservation.

Planeta.com hosts a number of awards aimed at improving the quality of communication about responsible travel and ecotourism. Coverage of indigenous people and tourism are highlighted in the regional guides.

The Indigenous Tourism Website Award can be used as a catalyst to improve collaboration among operations around the world. Applicants should consider adding links to one another. Here's a message we received from one of the nominees: "It will be interesting for us to see who just sees us as competition for this award and who has the vision to recognize it as a great opportunity to further grow a business community and contacts. For us it certainly is more than just an award but when looking at other applicants websites, it makes us want to experience what other indigenous tourism have to offer."


The official jury is composed of:

Lois Peeler is an Aboriginal woman from Australia's Yorta Yorta tribe. Lois lives in Melbourne. Her involvement in the Australian Indigenous tourism industry spans more than fifteen years and she is co-author of the Respecting Our Culture Indigenous Tourism Certification Program.

Sylvie Blangy is a European scholar who has worked with Canadian Inuit and Cree communities. She completed her PhD on Ecotourism, indigenous communities, land management and conservation of biodiversity and has published a guide book on Indigenous tourism in French.

Deborah McLaren is a sustainable tourism consultant based in Minnesota where she assisted the start-up of a Journeys with First Nations Green Route initiative with tribal communities. She is the former director of Indigenous Tourism Rights International (ITRI), has served as a consultant with the UNDP, Government of Bhutan and several foundations.

John Scott is a descendant of the Iningai people of central Queensland, Australia (Barcaldine area) and since 2004 has served as the Programme Officer for Traditional Knowledge for the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

Popular vote

Over 200 voters participated in the selection process!