Erika Harms, Executive Director for Sustainable Development at the UN Foundation, released the following statement on September 21, 2009.
“I am delighted that two members of the World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (WHA), an industry-leading initiative that works to support World Heritage conservation, sustainable tourism, and local economic development for communities in and around UNESCO World Heritage sites, have received two high-level awards recognizing their leadership in sustainable tourism.
I congratulate Marilu Hernandez, chair of the governing body of the WHA and co-founder of The Haciendas in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, for winning the 2009 Conde Nast Traveler World Savers Award. Chosen for its leadership in poverty alleviation, The Haciendas is a small hotel chain located in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula that worked with local community members to turn abandoned haciendas into contemporary resorts. In addition, Hernandez created a Mobile Library Project that has reached over 12,000 children in an area where books are scarce and illiteracy is the norm.
As a native of Costa Rica, I’m proud of Alex E. Khajavi, Chairman and CEO of NatureAir and vice chair of the WHA, for being named the winner of the second annual Geotourism Challenge sponsored by the National Geographic Society and Ashoka’s Changemakers. Nature Air is the first 100 percent carbon neutral airline in Costa Rica that offsets 100 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions to encourage reforestation of tropical forests in southern Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula.
The Haciendas and NatureAir and its leaders understand that the preservation of a World Heritage site depends largely on the stability and prosperity of the communities around them. Their commitment inspires us to continue to encourage the travel industry to adopt sustainable business practices and support local communities.”
About the World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism
The World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism is an industry-leading initiative that works to support World Heritage conservation, sustainable tourism, and local economic development for communities in and around UNESCO World Heritage sites. The UN Foundation and Expedia, Inc. created the World Heritage Alliance in the fall of 2005 with the agreement of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. www.worldheritagealliance.org.
About the UN Foundation
The UN Foundation, a public charity, was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. The UN Foundation is an advocate for the UN and a platform for connecting people, ideas, and resources to help the United Nations solve global problems. We build partnerships, grow constituencies, mobilize resources and advocate policy changes to support the UN’s work for individual and global progress. The UN Foundation’s work – focused on select global problems – is decreasing child mortality, improving disaster relief, protecting diverse cultures and environments, creating a clean energy future, empowering women and girls, and improving U.S.-UN relations. For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org.