The planet is facing a number of natural threats. Firstly, there is the issue of global warming, a threat intensified by the road, rail and airline industries. Tourism, of course, is partially responsible for this and is the main source of harmful emissions within the airline industry. In addition to this, many communities around the globe are in danger of collapsing through natural disasters, food shortages and general poverty. In an attempt to combat and counter-attack this, an organisation was launched in 2004 which offers awards to individuals and tourist organisations which make special efforts to improve the situation for the environment and for communities through tourism.
The organisation was founded through cooperation between the World Travel Market, The Times and National Geographic magazine and is now in its fourth year of operation. Tourists send in their nominations for organisations or individuals whom they feel are worthy of an award. Those making the nominations are offered prizes - trips to exotic destinations such as New Zealand and Uganda - and as a result many nominations are received.
Award winners get positive global publicity with the likelihood of increased business as a result. Cynics suggest that the principal motive behind this whole affair is simply to make more money and that the environment, wildlife and poverty-stricken communities are secondary. However, for many, even if this is true, the effects must be seen as positive.