The Wellness Tourism Association (WTA) has announced that two individuals have been selected to receive the organization’s first Leading Light Award. The award was launched earlier this year to honor companies or individuals who had successfully launched and implemented a wellness project/initiative that upholds and furthers the principles of the association’s mission, “to shape and support sustainable wellness tourism for the global good.” The WTA Board of Directors reviewed the list of a dozen nominees and selected Ms. Refica Attwood, Founder and Executive Director of Wallings Nature Reserve in Antigua & Barbuda and Mr. I Nyoman Yastama, Spa & Wellness Director at Alba Wellness Valley by Fusion in Hue City, Vietnam.

Chair of the 2021 Leading Light Award Committee, John Nielsen, Board Member and General Manager of Fivelements Retreat in Bali, points out that “While the list of nominees was just 12 in this our inaugural year, the Board was unanimous in selecting these two individuals to be presented with the award.”

Ms. Refica Attwood

Known locally as “Antigua’s Proudest Treehugger,” Refica Attwood is locally acclaimed for turning the neglected forest she loved and played in as a child into the country’s first community- managed national park, referred to as Wallings Nature Reserve. One of the Nature Reserves’ current initiatives is the Reforestation of Signal Hill Project which will strengthen the island’s conservation efforts with the planting of 600 food-producing trees.

Anne Dimon, WTA President & CEO points out that “Ms. Attwood, is being honored by the WTA for her leadership in creating and continuing to manage a sustainable tourism product that can be looked upon as an inspiration to other communities, islands and countries around the world.” Attwood says, “I will always remember my father’s words that inspired me: ‘If you want to see a change you are going to have to take action.’ ”

She was nominated by Donyelle Bird-Browne on behalf of the Wellness Committee, Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority.

Maria Blackman, Marketing Communications Manager at the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority and Wellness committee member said, “This award highlights the commitment and drive of Ms. Attwood and her team. We continue to see the emergence of Wallings Nature Reserve as a popular attraction for both residents and visitors, and through their work they continue to make a lasting investment into the future of Antigua and Barbuda.”

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News release Leading Light Award May 17th