30 JANUARY 2002

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Ecotourism award founded

Private and public organisations have been invited by the Tourism Ministry to submit projects and compete for an annual trophy and plaque as well as a Lm3,000 cash prize which the ministry will award to the project that best reflects the principles of sustainability and of the International Year of Ecotourism.

Tourism Minister Michael Refalo said that the initiatives, receiving the most favourable consideration, would be those that went towards the conservation, protection or enhancement of the natural environment or the national heritage in their "widest meaning".

"They must of course be initiatives from which the tourism industry stands to benefit directly, such as water and energy saving schemes, recycling initiatives, use and development of organic products, eco-management practices, and eco-friendly development. Initiatives may also include awareness campaigns and publications," Refalo explains.

The minister explained that the ministry will be appointing a Standing Commission to advise the it on environmental issues. The duty of the Commission will also be to determine the rules for the award and evaluate all project applications. The Standing Commission will be chaired by a representative of the Ministry and will include members from the trade, government agencies, NGOs operating in the fields of the environment and heritage. The Commission would decide on the winner of the Award and an announcement would be made in December of each year. "The event is an annual one. It makes no sense to talk about and promote Ecotourism one year and forget all about it in the next," explains Dr Refalo.

The award is open to all tourism operators, private and public organizations, Local Councils, NGOs, individuals and groups.

The minister also announced that the Malta Tourism Authority would in October launch an eco-certification scheme which would be limited to eco-management practices and would be technically based. MTA’s scheme would be the first step for all those who wish to apply for ISO 14,000 or EMAS certification.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt