Khiri Reach, the charitable arm of Southeast Asia-based Khiri Travel, has won the global 2023 Skal Sustainable Tourism Award in the tour operator category.
The foundation won for its submission, “Sixteen Years of Reaching Out in Asia.”
Mr Kevin S. Rautenbach, President of Skal international Thailand, received the award on stage on behalf of Khiri Reach, during the opening ceremony of the 82nd Skal World Congress in Malaga, Spain, 2 November.
Skal said the 2023 award to Khiri Reach was evaluated by three prominent judges related to tourism and sustainability. The judges’ scores were given to the Skal International general secretariat for assessment. The result was verified by the Skal International senior auditor.
“We are grateful to the judges for recognising 16 years of community help and environmental care by Khiri Reach,” said Willem Niemeijer, Chairman of the foundation and CEO of Khiri Travel.
“Guided by a belief in tourism as a force for good, Khiri Reach will continue to commit to projects that are grassroots and have a strong, direct and sustainable impact on the community or environment,” he said.
Since its creation in 2007, Khiri Reach projects have ranged from helping earthquake and flood victims in Laos and Lombok to assisting with gibbon and turtle rehabilitation in Phuket and Myanmar, supporting tourism workers during the Covid years, building water wells, and helping set up community based tourism in Cambodia.
The award comes as Khiri Reach revealed renewed focus on community, conservation and emergency response projects. It seeks to work with its tour operator partners and others to expand tourism’s role in giving back in Asia.
“Now that we’ve put the Covid years behind us, it is a good time for like-minded organisations and donors to work with Khiri Reach to deliver impactful long-term help across Asia,” said Niemeijer.
He added that Khiri Reach was effective because Khiri Travel covered all overheads, guaranteeing 100% of donations went to the frontline.
The charitable arm of Khiri Travel has helped fund or implement over 20 projects since its inception.
The latest campaign, to be announced in December, will be a community reafforestation project in Cambodia, working with a leading conservation NGO.
Across all its eight countries of operation, Khiri Reach also plans to engage three more Khiri Reach “Ambassadors” – Khiri Travel staff who champion a local project and drive it forward.
The work of Khiri Reach was also acknowledged by the judges of the 2023 Travel Marketing Awards in London in June. The judges awarded Khiri Reach third place globally for its approach to sustainable and responsible tourism.
People can find out more about Khiri Reach by visiting KhiriReach.org or visiting the Khiri Travel booth (Stand N11-400) at WTM London 6-8 November. Queries can be sent to KhiriReach@khiri.com.