Holland America Line received a first place award today at the Responsible Tourism Awards ceremony sponsored by Virgin Holidays. The ceremony held at World Travel Market in London recognizes tourism companies for operating a successful business while respecting destinations and communities.

Holland America Line won the first place award for Best Cruise or Ferry Operator.

“Holland America Line has successfully tackled the environmental impacts of its business,” said Justin Francis, director of The Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards 2008.  “They have reduced dockside emissions by 20%, developed and implemented an “Avoiding Whale Strikes” training programme, increased recycling by 50% and introduced new scrubber technology.”

Awards were presented at a special luncheon held November 12 in conjunction with World Travel Market in London.

“We are grateful to be recognized by Virgin Holidays for our ongoing efforts to operate in a socially and environmentally friendly manner,” said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs.  “We are continually reviewing, monitoring and improving our operations, and we remain committed to minimizing our environmental footprint.”

Shore Power
Holland America Line partnered with the Port of Seattle, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Seattle City Light and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to install shore power facilities at the Port of Seattle’s cruise Terminal 30. To date Holland America Line has outfitted three Vista-class ships—ms Oosterdam, ms Noordam, ms Westerdam—and the flagship ms Amsterdam. Shore power enables ships to turn off their diesel engines and connect to the local electric grid which uses clean hydro-electric power.

Avoiding Whale Strikes
To assist in the recovery and ensure the safety of all whale species, Holland America Line, in cooperation with NOAA’s Fisheries Service and the National Parks Service, developed and launched “Avoiding Whale Strikes,” a comprehensive and interactive computer-based training program. All HAL deck officers have taken the course.
Sea Water Scrubber
An in-depth feasibility study is underway in cooperation with local regulatory agencies, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada, and Holland America Line to develop and test a sea water scrubber for possible use on ships. If successful, such scrubbers will reduce sulfur dioxide and particulate matter emissions. The scrubber is currently aboard the ms Zaandam and testing in ongoing.

Tourism companies are nominated by travelers. This year over 1,900 tourism companies were nominated across 13 categories.  Finalist completed a detailed questionnaire and winners were picked by a panel of judges.

About The Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards
Founded by Justin Francis, Managing Director of responsibletravel.com in 2004, The Responsible Tourism Awards, sponsored by Virgin Holidays are the most competitive of their kind in the world and are a collaboration between online travel directory responsibletravel.com; UK media partners Telegraph Travel, Geographical Magazine & BBC World News and World Travel Market who host the presentation event. The central tenet of the Awards is that all types of tourism - from niche to mainstream - can and should be operated in a way that respects and benefits destinations and local people.