Tue, 16 Dec 2003

Bunaken voted global winner of 2003 British Airways award

The Bunaken National Marine Park in South Sulawesi has been voted the global winner of this year's British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow awards.

The assessment was based on how projects benefit the local community, protect the natural and cultural heritage, control energy and water use, educate local people and visitors and contribute toward a better life for future generations, British Airways cited in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post.

The world-renowned diving site beat more than 70 other entrants in the worldwide competition.

Bunaken management was cited as having been successful in bringing an end to damaging practices in the park such as coral mining, the destruction of mangroves, and dynamite and cyanide fishing.

At the same time, it has helped improve livelihood opportunities for more than 30,000 local residents living in the park vicinity and made education a priority, through scholarship programs and links with schools and universities.

The marine park's beaches have been cleaned and a patrol of villagers, rangers and local police officers has been formed to safeguard its valuable natural resources. In the last two years live coral cover has increased in the park by more than 11 percent.

Almost a third of the park's entrance fees are used to fund conservation and development projects which are proposed and implemented by the community. The local community has a strong input in the park's management initiative, as five of its fifteen board members are local residents.

Chairman of the panel of judges, Prof. David Bellamy commented, "Bunaken is what natural parks and nature-based tourism are all about. It is a biodiverse area of great beauty and importance to its nation and the world.

"The park is sustainably managed by the local community, safeguarding their own heritage, a rich living resource which they can pass on to their children. This global winner is a perfect mix of national pride and tourism that doesn't cost the earth more than it can afford," Bellamy said in the statement. -- JP