Thane Iskcon bags UN tourism award

Mumbai, Jan 20 (IANS) The Govardhan Eco Village (GEV) of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) has bagged the UN Award for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism, an official said here on Friday.

This is the first time that the award has come to India, the official added.

The award was presented to HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj, the founder of GEV, located in Thane, at the annual UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) ceremony in Madrid, Spain on Thursday night.

“It’s the biggest international recognition till date for GEV which has bagged the UNWTO award in the NGOs category for shaping global tourism through sustainable innovations,” said GEV Director Gauranga Das.

Radhanath Swami said that the project has successfully linked GEV tourism initiatives by providing a sustainable life to the local tribal communities in surrounding villages of Wada in Thane, thereby creating a model of empowerment and development of the locals there.

UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said that the award recognises global tourism efforts to foster innovation and the need to advance towards a more sustainable and responsible future, as the world celebrates 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

The GEV has earlier bagged the International Green World Award, in Korea, the International Zero Waste Award and International Built Environment Award, both in UK, among others.

In 2016, the Samrakshak Samuha Nepal had bagged the UNWTO Award for its project, Sisterhood of Survivors Programme, and past recipients include NGOs from Malaysia, Austria, Brazil, Australia, Spain, Chile and Portugal.

This year, there were 139 entries from 55 countries culminating in 12 finalists based on criteria like Public Policy and Governance, Enterprises, NGO, and Research and Technology.

The UNWTO has 157 countries as members, six associates and over 500 affiliate-members from different fields, including corporate, academics, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.