Who and Why
Our Panel is made up of senior level sustainable tourism experts. All members must have at least 10 years experience in tourism with a significant amount of experience in responsible tourism in Asia.
Judging Advisory Panel
The role of our Judging Advisory Panel is to review the answers and evidence provided in the application forms, and the required documentation. The Panel help identify the most inspiring operators. Each Judge will select their top 2-3 operators for each category. The two operators with the most votes will be selected as Finalists and this decision is final. Likewise, the operator in each category at the second round of judging with the most votes will be selected as a Winner and this decision is final. Allowing the Judges to vote as an independent Panel gives us assurance and fair judging.
Ayako is Managing Partner and Co-Founder of TrainingAid, a training and education startup focused on practical online training tools for entrepreneurs, business and community leaders, and career seekers. Having worked for over eight years in professional training and education in the non-profit sector, Ayako specializes in content building, educational program design, and project planning. She also brings many years of experience in online communications, social media marketing, and web publishing. Prior to starting at TrainingAid, Ayako served as Director of Communications for The International Ecotourism Society (TIES). She has contributed to various publications, including “Sustainable Tourism & the Millennium Development Goals” (2012) and “Have Fork Will Travel: A Practical Handbook for Food & Drink Tourism Professionals” (2014).
Charmarie has extensive and diverse portfolio of experience. She has worked in the frontline of international development, living with communities in rural regions in poverty alleviation and developing agribusiness economy. Her contribution in gender and women in development is substantial.
In tourism, she has been responsible for heading the destination marketing for Sri Lanka Tourism and has also been the Director for Sri Lanka Tourist Board in London. As the founder director of the Responsible Tourism Partnership Sri Lanka programme, she has set the strategic direction for the destination’s responsible tourism demonstrating best practices and takes credit for conceiving and implementing a number of flagship projects with the Travel Foundation. Trees for Life and Dickwella Lace post tsunami nature conservation & safeguarding livelihood projects, addressing hassle to tourists with LINC Beach Community project and Greening Sri Lanka Hotels Natural Resources Management & Energy Optimization Climate Change mitigation project are a few examples.
She currently works in sustainability, CSR and good governance making development issues part of the corporate business agenda demonstrating a number of mechanisms of social and environmental justice.
Gopi is the founder and Chief Executive of The Blue Yonder. Gopi set up Nila Foundation in Kerala during 2004 out of the passion for the region he comes from and a concern for a unique river civilization. While exploring a sustainable financial support for the foundation, he came up with the idea of The Blue Yonder (TBY), which is now one of the most innovative responsible travel companies in the world. In 2009 December Outlook Business Magazine has featured Gopi amongst the 50 Social Entrepreneurs in India.
An official Responsible Tourism Partner for ITB Berlin and ITB Asia, The Blue Yonder has won multiple international awards and recognitions for their responsible tourism initiatives including Conde Nast Traveler World Saver ́s Awards, First Choice Responsible Tourism Awards at the World Travel Mart and Conde Nast Traveler ́s 8 Great Trips that give back to communities ́ among others. Latest recognition includes prestigious 2012 TODO! 2012 awards for Socially Responsible Tourism, one of the oldest awards in Sustainable Tourism in the world.
Gopi co-founded Responsible Tourism Networking that brings together Responsible Tourism practitioners from around the world during larger trade shows like ITB Berlin and WTM. The A to Z series on Responsible Tourism (www.atozofrt.com) conceptualised by TBYA, the consulting arm of The Blue Yonder is part of campaigns designed to demystify Responsible Travel.
He is currently leading the Climate Change Resistant Food Security project in Kerala in partnership with local cooperative banks to revive and promote the rare variety of red-coloured rice called ‘Pokkali’. The initiative was presented at the 2103 World Food and Travel Summit in Goteborg, Sweden. The Blue Yonder is also the official partner for India ́s first Biennale – Kochi Muziris Biennale.
Patchareeboon Sakulpitakphon (Mam)
For the past 8 years Mam has worked to promote child protection within the private sector and is currently the ‘Engagement & Awareness’ Project Manager at The Code, a multiple award-winning multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at supporting tourism companies to prevent sexual exploitation of children.
In the past two years with The Code team, she’s responsible for strengthening member’s child protection mechanisms through a consultative approach [assist in drafting child protection policy and procedures, conducting trainings of trainers for members, linking to national partners and guidance on how to report, including referrals]. A happy achievement is the new, successful e-learning platform [10 different modules with translations into 9 languages], specifically created for tourism front-line staff to identify possible cases and provide guidance on how to report. Currently, she explores new ideas to create additional services and tools for members and partners in order to increase impact of The Code.
Prior to this current position, she worked as ECPAT International’s Programme Officer for Combating Child Trafficking and Child Sex Tourism, implemented the global ‘Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People’ campaign with The Body Shop International over a period of three years in over 40 countries, resulting several significant achievements: presented 7 million+ petitions to the United Nations, generated over US$3 million dollars and at least 16 countries adopted legislation changes.
Paul grew up in San Francisco, California and graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Political Economy of Natural Resources. He got his first work experience abroad as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal stationed in Langtang National Park as an environmental education volunteer.
He then worked as a tour leader for Where There Be Dragons, after which he moved to Lao PDR to work with UNESCO on the Nam Ha Ecotourism Project as a guide trainer. Since, then he has continued working in Laos, Vietnam and Sierra Leone with other agencies, including WWF, International Crane Foundation, RSPB, and developing community-based ecotourism. He is currently with Wildlife Conservation Society as the programme’s regional ecotourism advisor, setting up conservation-focused tours in both Laos and Myanmar.
Peter Richards has 10 years of hands-on experience working in sustainable and community based tourism. His career responsible tourism has seen him in roles as Regional Responsible Travel Coordinator for Intrepid Travel (2000-2002), Marketing Manager for the Responsible, Ecological Social Tours Project (2003-2007) and the Marketing Support and Development Coordinator and a founding member of the Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute (2007-2010).
Between 2009-2010, Peter managed the Corporate Social Responsibility and Market Access Partnerships Project (CSR-MAP) lead by the Thai Ecotourism and Adventure Travel Association (TEATA) which received a PATA Gold Award for education and training.Since 2010, Peter has broadened his experience by working with The Netherlands Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (ANVR), The United Nations Joint Project (UNJP), The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of Thailand (MOTS) and Thailand’s Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (DASTA).
Peter also helps his wife to operate the Family Tree, a boutique Fair Trade store, offering arts and crafts made by over 40 local Thai community groups and exceptional independent artists, planted in the charming beach resort of Hua Hin, Thailand. Peter was a judge for the 2012 and 2013 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards.
Raj is the Founder and Director of Socialtours.com, and partner in socialtreks.com. Socialtours.com is a great responsible travel enterprise which started with a small project in 1998 with the goal of leveraging tourism to promote local development in Nepal. The small project has turned into an inspiring leading Responsible Tourism company in Nepal, Tibet, India and Bhutan and one of the first ones to conduct a custom designed RT audit. Currently, Raj looks after the corporate marketing and strategic development of the organization.
Together with a group of community based experts and RT entrepreneurs, he started a project, in 2009, focused on collaboration among localized experts to offer a unique RT product in the Indian subcontinent: the Green Circuit initiative. Gyawali is directly involved in different organizations including United Planet as Co-coordinator for Nepal and Coordinator for Ghana; Nepal River Conservation Trust as Board member; Joy Foundation Nepal as Honorary Life Member; KEEP Nepal as life member, and Namaste Nepal as board member.