Responsible Tourism Award: WTM

Landing Iceland’s first Responsible Tourism Award at WTM in London for client North Sailing Husavik who win Best Carbon Reduction Initiative for renewable energy whale watching.

Sustainable Whale Watching

North Sailing Husavik offers whale watching and boutique expedition cruises in North Iceland and Greenland aboard restored oak sailing ships. These industry pioneers are recognized for establishing the small fishing village of Husavik as the Whale Watching Capital of Northern Europe, providing eco-friendly wildlife adventures to nearly 50,000 visitors per year.

We were honored and excited when North Sailing appointed Iceland Cool to promote the maiden voyage of Opal, the world’s first expedition cruise powered by 100% renewable energy. This incredible feat was made possible due to their new invention, a regenerative hybrid propulsion system allowing boats to run on renewable energy instead of fossil fuel.

Developed from electric car technology, the slow-going propeller eliminates engine noise and allows passengers to more peacefully experience whales in their natural habitat while causing minimal disturbance to the gentle giants. The system was installed in their two-mast vessel Opal, and the remaining fleet to become carbon-free ships by 2020.

Go Viking, or Go Home

Understanding that such an innovation could change the face of eco-tourism forever, we knew we had to spread the word in a big way. It was time to go Viking, or go home.

Iceland Cool proposed that North Sailing Husavik go after the biggest award in eco-tourism: the World Responsible Tourism Awards held annually at World Travel Market (WTM) in London.

The WTM Responsible Tourism Awards are presented each year at WTM London, in front of an audience of 600 key influencers and decision makers. These awards are a centerpiece of WTM Responsible Tourism Day – the biggest responsible tourism event globally.

Spearheading the rigorous award application process, we launched the Zero-Carbon Project, a multi-channel dissemination campaign targeting the eco-tourism community. The combined B2B and consumer outreach spanned press releases, email marketing, blog posts and the launch of North Sailing’s social media presence across LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Opal’s maiden voyage would be commemorated with a ceremony at Husavik Harbor, including attendance by Iceland’s Prime Minister and the Mayor of Husavik. Aboard Opal a film crew captured the maiden voyage which was broadcast live on the North Sailing website.

Best Innovation for Carbon Reduction

We were thrilled when North Sailing Husavik won the Silver Medal from the Responsible Tourism Awards at World Travel Market (WTM) for Best Innovation for Carbon Reduction. The category is awarded to a tourism company that innovates a transparent approach to reducing carbon that is replicable across the tourism industry and also practices dissemination initiatives that will inspire others.

This is the first time in history that an Icelandic tourism company is honored in such a way at WTM.

Preserving Cultural Heritage

North Sailing deserves recognition for their unique approach to environmental and cultural sustainability. The oak vessels used on whale watching tours are restored fishing boats no longer in use. These gaff rigged sailing ships play an important role in preserving the knowledge and practice of maintaining a traditional Icelandic sailing vessel.

The organization operates with eco-tourism principles in mind including active participation against whaling, integrating a Wildlife Code of Conduct into their business core, and purchasing electric company cars for use of local transportation.

Anyone interested in experiencing zero carbon whale-watching should head up to Husavik, a vibrant village of friendly people enjoying a sustainable future on the edge of the inhabitable world.