Arabian Travel Market awards scheme recognises Asian nations as their tourism sectors prevail in the face of overwhelming adversity after being struck by devastating natural disasters.
The 2015 shortlist for ATM's annual New Frontiers Recovery Awards, with three Asian nations nominated for this year’s award, was announced at ATM 2015.
The shortlisted destinations Japan, Nepal and India were recognised for dealing with the dual trauma of significant human and economic losses in the last 12 months due to devastating natural catastrophes, their effect on local tourism and their remarkable efforts to recover.
“On a humanitarian level we are all obliged to assist those nations suffering the consequences of a natural disaster, the effects which can be devastating,” explains Nadege Noblet, Exhibition Manager, Arabian Travel Market.
“The tourism industry is unique in that it not only experiences the direct consequences of a natural disaster, but it is also able to highlight a country’s plight to a broader international audience. The New Frontiers Recovery Award, which is now in its 11th year, highlights and recognises the efforts made by nations, to rebuild and recover, after suffering from an environmental catastrophe.”
The New Frontiers Recovery Award was created in 2005 to recognise outstanding contributions to tourism development in the face of overwhelming adversity, supporting the chosen destination by donating exhibition space at the event to the value of US$10,000.
As well as physical rebuilding, the award also focuses on the strategic redevelopment of a destination as nations seek to repair market confidence and attract tourism back to the region.
“After the immediate requirement for humanitarian relief, primarily shelter and medical services support, the priority is to assist the affected governments to reposition their countries on the international tourism stage,” added Noblet. “Support to tourism authorities and associated businesses is essential and ATM provides a unique opportunity and platform to communicate the challenges and successes of deserving nominees.”
Previous award recipients include Phuket, Thailand; Cancun, Mexico; Sichuan, China; Baluchistan, Pakistan; and Central Visayas, Philippines.
The 2015 nominees all had to repair, rebuild and recover, with efforts ongoing in some destinations.
Japan – Mount Ontake eruption. The Japanese island of Honshu saw the first fatal volcanic disaster since 1991 take place when the island’s Mount Ontake erupted on September 27th, 2014. Around 250 residents were trapped on the slopes of Mount Ontake, with 69 reported injured from gas inhalation and impact of rocks, resulting in 48 deaths. It was the deadliest volcanic eruption in Japan since 1902. Japan’s military deployed over 1,000 troops as well as rescue services.
India – landslide, Malin. A landslide on July 30th, 2014, struck sleeping residents in the village of Malin, burying 44 houses and resulting in 151 deaths – almost half the population of the village. Despite rescue services sending up to 100 ambulances and 7 JCBs to dig for survivors, poor road conditions and continuing rain hampered efforts. Tourism to the area fell by almost 50%, resulting in severe loss of business.
Nepal – Sunkoshi River landslide. Heavy rainfall resulted in a landslide at the Sunkoshi River on August 4th, 2014, resulting in 156 deaths and hundreds of families being removed from the affected area. The landslide blocked the river and created an artificial lake in Sindhupalchok District, and 400,000 residents had to be evacuated from their homes. Nepalese authorities are looking to conduct a controlled explosion to drain the flood waters. Meanwhile, the travel and tourism industry in Nepal has come to a virtual standstill due to the danger of flooding.