Expands Partnership with WWF and Pledges USD $1 Million for Wildlife Conservation
Agoda, the global digital travel platform, announced at the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) that it has broadened its collaboration with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), expanding its Eco Deals Program to support eight conservation projects across Southeast Asia. As a part of ATF’s official agenda, Agoda hosted a luncheon with the presence of ASEAN Tourism Ministers as well as Secretary-General of ASEAN. Agoda’s CEO Omri Morgenshtern and Elizabeth Clarke, WWF-Singapore’s Director of Conservation outlined the vision and goals for the partnership in the presence of representatives from ASEAN National Tourism Organizations, the ASEAN Secretariat and also ASEAN Dialogue Partners. Agoda’s Eco Deals showcases an example of private-public partnership in support of ATF’s theme: “Quality and responsible tourism – Sustaining ASEAN Future”.
Agoda will increase its donation to WWF-Singapore four-fold to USD $1 million as part of this year’s Eco Deals Program, supporting the conservation efforts of local WWF offices in eight markets, including ATF host Lao PDR, as well as Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. As per the previous editions of the program, Agoda will donate USD $1 for each hotel booking made on hotels participating in the initiative. These funds will support WWF’s diverse conservation projects, spanning marine, forest, and wildlife preservation, including the protection of Tigers in Malaysia, Whale Sharks in the Philippines, and Elephants in Thailand. The other projects receiving support this year focus on the conservation of Saolas in Vietnam, ecosystem restoration in Indonesia, ranger support in Cambodia, and improvement of urban wetlands in Lao PDR. The Eco Deals Program which is actively onboarding accommodation partners will go live to consumers on 3 March 2024 and run until 3 December 2024.
From the ATF event on 26 January, Omri Morgenshtern, Chief Executive Officer, Agoda said: “As a company that aims to make travel possible for more people, we recognize we have a responsibility to contribute to the preservation of destinations. Through our longstanding partnership with WWF under the Eco Deals Program and the collaborative support of our hotel partners, we aspire to proactively champion initiatives that contribute to the further preservation and protection of the world, ensuring that it remains an environment for future generations to explore and enjoy.”
The Chair of the ASEAN Tourism Ministers Meeting (MATM), H.E. Minister Suanesavanh Vignaket of Ministry of Information, Culture, Tourism, Laos said, “We invite public and private sectors to actively participate in advancing and cultivating sustainable practices in ASEAN, aligning with the principles outlined in the ASEAN Framework on Sustainable Tourism Development. Noteworthy collaborations such as the partnership between Agoda and WWF serve as excellent examples, contributing significantly to raising awareness about responsible travel and ASEAN as travel destinations.”
Vivek Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, WWF-Singapore said: “WWF’s latest Living Planet Report reveals a staggering 69% drop in wildlife populations on average in less than a lifetime. As an international hub, WWF-Singapore is well-positioned to continue driving positive change in Southeast Asia. The conservation impact we have achieved over the last two years showcases the tangible effect our collaboration has on the environment. As we embark on our third year of partnership with Agoda, we look forward to expanding projects for marine, forest, and wildlife conservation.”
The WWF conservation projects supported in the second edition of the Eco Deals Program saw some spectacular successes:
- In Singapore, 5 volunteer training sessions for the Cyber Spotters Program were conducted to equip 156 participants with the skills to identify over 6,000 illegal wildlife trade listings on online and social platforms.
- In Cambodia, a total of 41 government and 42 community rangers received training, completing 299 patrols covering over 17,000 km in the protected areas of Srepok and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuaries, leading to the discovery of 13 illegal logging and poaching sites.
- In Indonesia, a total area of 142.39 hectares was restored through planting activities together with the local communities and stakeholders. 28 camera traps were deployed to monitor wildlife activity, capturing a rare image of a Sumatran Tiger and 2 cubs.
- In Malaysia, 20 teams consisting of 116 individuals patrolled the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex over 2,849 days and marked a second consecutive year of zero active snares were recorded. 282 camera traps were also installed in 141 locations within the landscape to monitor wildlife activity.
- In Vietnam, plans for the procurement of GPS and smartphones using SMART Connect and SMART Mobile for patrols are in place. Training courses have been scheduled to coach 90 rangers and technical staff at Yok Don National Park and the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Centre on how to use SMART technology during their patrols to better manage and protect wildlife and their habitats.
Notes to Editor: In this edition of Eco Deals, Agoda will donate a minimum amount of USD 500,000 with donation target being USD 1,000,000. Agoda will provide financial support to local WWF conservation projects in each of the eight markets participating in the Eco Deals Program.
Singapore – Strengthening Marine Conservation in the Southern Islands
Singapore’s Southern Islands are home to diverse coral reefs and a thriving marine life. In collaboration with National University of Singapore (NUS), this project supports the deployment of underwater video systems in 5 sites and analyses of underwater footage to plug important data gaps on populations of local marine creatures. Data collected will be published and help guide local conservation work to ensure these species are well protected.
Malaysia – Strengthening Tiger Conservation in Belum-Temengor
Spanning over 3,400km2, the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex is one of three priority sites for Tigers in Malaysia under the National Tiger Conservation Action Plan. From an estimated 3,000 Tigers in the 1950s, Tiger populations have rapidly declined to less than 150 individuals primarily due to habitat loss and poaching. This project aims to maintain critical tiger habitats and linkages, tackling poaching activities in the hopes of increasing and protecting existing Tiger populations.
The Philippines – Protecting Whale Sharks in Donsol
The municipality of Donsol hosts one of the largest Whale Shark aggregations worldwide. Locally known as “butanding”, whale sharks have a key role in the health and balance of our marine ecosystem. The project supports monitoring Whale Shark movement and migration patterns using their unique spot patterns. The capacities of Butanding Interaction Officers (BIOs) and boat operators will be strengthened to further enhance their operational capabilities. Data collected from the monitoring will help inform conservation strategies to protect this endangered species better.
Indonesia – Ecosystem Restoration in Thirty Hills
The Thirty Hills Landscape, or Bukit Tigapuluh, is home to more than 8,000 people and a critical habitat for endangered wildlife such as clouded Leopards, Orangutans and Tapirs. It hosts 5% of the remaining population of critically endangered Sumatran Tigers and 20% of the remaining population of critically endangered Sumatran Elephants. This project supports the protection of wildlife through monitoring, restoration of the forest landscape and partnering with local communities and stakeholders to build more sustainable livelihoods without compromising environmental conservation values.
Thailand – Elephant Conservation in Kuiburi National Park
Kuiburi National Park’s rich ecosystems support an array of endangered wildlife including over 200 wild Elephants. The project supports the conservation of these species through habitat improvement activities such as the expansion of grassland areas for feeding as well as maintaining mineral licks and watering holes to ensure there are sufficient water sources during droughts. In addition to that, community outreach activities will be conducted to raise awareness about the importance of Elephant conservation within the landscape to mitigate potential human-wildlife conflict.
Vietnam – Supporting Saola Conservation in the Central Annamites Landscape
Vietnam’s Central Annamites Landscape (CAL) is a global biodiversity hotspot spanning 2.3 million ha. It is home to an array of protected species including the Saola. Often referred to as the “Asian Unicorn” due to its rare and elusive nature, the Saola is a critically endangered species under threat due to habitat loss, hunting and poaching for illegal wildlife trade. This project supports the conservation of the species and its habitats by establishing a rewilding program, scaling up Saola detection in 15 watersheds as well as supporting a rescue and breeding conservation center. In addition to that, community outreach activities will be conducted in the buffer zones of the nature reserve to engage with local communities and raise awareness about the importance of local biodiversity.
Lao PDR – Supporting the Nong Kham Sen Wetland
Nong Kham Sen is a conserved wetland area rich in biodiversity with over 175 bird species recorded and plays an essential role in supporting nearby communities for food and agriculture. Its high cultural value, freshwater biodiversity and potential for environmental education make it a key landscape that supports the livelihoods of local communities. The project supports the creation and installation of educational materials and advisories as well as the construction of bird hides for locals and tourists to appreciate the local biodiversity.
Cambodia – Supporting Rangers in the Eastern Plains Landscape
Covering 600,000 ha, the Eastern Plains Landscape (EPL) spans is considered a global biodiversity hotspot, boasting the world’s largest population of wild Banteng and Cambodia’s largest population of Asian Elephants. However, with only 99 rangers actively patrolling the vast landscape, illegal poaching and logging activities have become a key challenge. This has resulted in the drastic decline of wildlife populations such as tigers which are now deemed functionally extinct within the area. This project supports the funding and training of additional rangers and patrol teams to conduct more frequent anti-poaching patrols.
About Agoda: Agoda, a digital travel platform, helps anyone see the world for less with its great value deals on a global network of 4M hotels and holiday properties worldwide, plus flights, activities, and more. Agoda.com and the Agoda mobile app are available in 39 languages and supported by 24/7 customer support.
Headquartered in Singapore, Agoda is part of Booking Holdings (Nasdaq: BKNG) and employs more than 6,900 staff in 26 markets, dedicated to leveraging best-in-class technology to make travel even easier.
About WWF-Singapore: World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of Earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.
As one of WWF’s international hubs, WWF-Singapore supports a global network spanning over 100 countries. WWF-Singapore works closely with local stakeholders towards a greener and more sustainable Singapore and the region around us. We work to address key areas, such as climate change, sustainable finance, deforestation, illegal wildlife trade, marine conservation, as well as sustainable production and consumption, through collaboration, education, and outreach efforts involving communities, businesses, and governments.