Pennicott Wilderness Journeys has been recognised as one of the world’s leading sustainable tourism operators, winning a Skål International Sustainable Tourism Award in Monaco overnight.
The award recognises businesses that demonstrate global leadership in sustainability, deliver outstanding visitor experiences and provide tangible benefits to the environment and the communities in which they operate.
Founder and Managing Director Robert Pennicott was humbled by the prestigious honour, which is the first international accolade for Pennicott Wilderness Journeys.
“We are really proud to be recognised for our commitment to sustainability, because it’s at the heart of everything we do. Our tours showcase the state’s spectacular environment and we’re proud of our contribution to the community. This recognition puts Tasmania on a global stage as a leader in sustainable tourism.”
The announcement was made in Monaco during the opening ceremony of the Skål World Congress in front of a crowd of tourism leaders and media from across the world. Skål is the world’s largest professional organisation of tourism leaders, with 16,000 members from 400 Clubs across 87 countries, uniting all sectors of the travel and tourism industry. There are 22 Skål Clubs in Australia, including two in Tasmania. Skål Club of Hobart president David Reed and past president Alfred Merse proudly accepted the award on the company’s behalf.
Judged by a panel of three global sustainability experts, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys was recognised as an outstanding example of embedding sustainable practices across the business. The judges were particularly impressed by the company’s commitment to environmental conservation and significant contribution to the community. During the past year over 320 charities, schools, community and conservation groups have been supported through Pennicott Wilderness Journeys or its Pennicott Foundation.
One key environmental project this year was a $60,000 contribution towards the eradication of black rats from Big Green Island (a nature reserve off the coast of Flinders Island), in partnership with the Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service. A rat population as high as 10,000 was decimating the island’s breeding population of 45,000 seabirds. 2,200 bait stations were placed across the island earlier this year. The project is now in a monitoring phase for the next 12 months.
Throughout the year there were many other environmental projects that the business supported, including beach clean-ups, seabird research, wildlife rehabilitation and education programs. Each year, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys is 100% carbon offset through an annual donation to Greening Australia. These donations are used for local planting programs across Tasmania, not only storing carbon but also linking critical habitat for birds and native wildlife. The company’s fuel, energy, waste and water use are assessed by EarthCheck and in all of these areas, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys performs better than global best-practice standards.
The award also recognised the company’s substantial contribution to the community. Pennicott Wilderness Journeys employs local staff, purchases goods/services from local suppliers wherever possible and directly contributes to a range of community initiatives.
“Sharing our success and making a positive contribution to the community has always been really important to me. I am really thankful to have a fantastic team of 95 local staff who are passionate about what we do and they provide a great experience for our guests,” Robert says.
Each year Pennicott Wilderness Journeys conducts education programs with many local and interstate schools, donates cruise tickets to schools/charities/community groups for fundraising, hosts work experience students and provides marine rescue assistance whenever it is needed. In April 2016 the business built a second jetty in Adventure Bay, which was gifted to Council and is now a valuable community asset. The business was also a major sponsor of the Bruny Island Bird Festival, held earlier this month. For the past three years the Pennicott Foundation has been the major sponsor of the Schools Triathlon Challenge which sees over 4500 Tasmanian students enjoy a non-competitive triathlon, encouraging healthy habits for life.
This award caps off an exciting year for Pennicott Wilderness Journeys which has seen the business host 100,000 visitors across its six tourism products. In December 2015, the business launched cruises and a tour bus service as part of the Three Capes Track and it also announced plans to establish eco-cruises at Wilsons Promontory in Victoria in 2017.