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Tourism has a New Hero: Anthony Barker, a leader in Vietnamese Wildlife Conservation

Anthony Barker
Anthony Barker, Tourism Hero
Written by Dmytro Makarov

Anthony Barker is one of the leading figures of Vietnamese wildlife conservation in the hospitality industry and an expert in the protection of the red-shanked douc langur, a native species of primate which is classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

He is the Resident Zoologist at the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort in Vietnam and a tourism hero.

The World Tourism Network recognized Anthony Barker as its latest Tourism Hero.

Accepting the award Anthony Barker said:

“I am deeply honored to receive the WTN Tourism Heroes Award. At InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, we have a responsibility to take care of our pristine nature reserve and its inhabitants, including the critically-endangered red-shanked douc langurs. So, I am delighted to lead projects to preserve the environment and engage with the local community to achieve this.

All businesses should learn to mold themselves around their natural location, rather than trying to force nature to mold around them. Only when we achieve complete sustainability can we reach our full potential.”

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Juergen Steinmetz, chairman of the World Tourism Network said:

“We’re very pleased to accept Anthony Barker as our latest Tourism Hero. Our jury was specifically impressed with his stand against poaching and trafficking of wildlife and his thoughts about complete sustainability.

In today’s uncertain times it takes people like Anthony to keep the good and amazing part of our industry in the spotlight and protected. The recognition is well deserved.”

Anthony’s reputation and talent were noticed by InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort. He was hired as their resident zoologist to lead the hotel’s conservation programs and oversee IHG Green Engage, the innovative environmental sustainability platform.

Since joining the team in early 2019, Anthony has revolutionized how this five-star resort approaches environmental responsibility. He has enhanced all aspects of local conservation, including improving security from poachers, collaborating with NGOs, and educating local communities, staff and guests.

It is Anthony’s work with the red-shanked douc that makes him a true hero.

He oversees eight protected zones within the resort which are home to tropical almond trees – the leaves of which are the douc’s favorite food.

These trees are protected and monitored to ensure they provide an abundance of food all year round. This is especially important during the dry season when other food sources might be limited.

Anthony also coordinated the creation and preservation of natural bridges or rope ladders, so that the doucs can move freely around the resort and access feeding grounds without touching the ground and coming into contact with humans.

The poaching and trafficking of wildlife are one of the biggest threats to nature in Vietnam.

Illegal hunting remains rife even within the Son Tra Peninsula, despite its protected reserve status. Taking advantage of the resort’s state-of-the-art 24/7 security, Anthony has created a stricter protection zone within the national park, and the arrival and departure of all personnel are fully documented.

He personally conducts regular perimeter walks to ensure that no paths have been made or traps deployed by poachers.

As a result of these surveillance measures, the community of red-shanked doucs within the resort are well-protected.

Education is a key element of Anthony’s work; he hosts regular complimentary wildlife workshops and guided tours of the reserve to raise awareness of local species and conservation.

His tours have become a highly popular part of the resort’s guest experience, with many five-star reviews on TripAdvisor.

Previous guests have hailed Anthony’s enthusiasm and knowledge, calling him a “great tour guide” who “actually cares for animals”.

Anthony is also behind the development of The Discovery Centre, a new onsite conservation hub.

Set to open in mid-2022, this center will allow guests, staff, and community groups – including local schoolchildren – to learn more about the resort’s conservation efforts. It will also host various programs and immersive exhibitions highlighting the local environment, as well as being the venue for Anthony’s regular wildlife workshops.

Courtesy: InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, Vietnam

The goal of The Discovery Centre project is to educate and change people’s behaviors to further protect the environment while simultaneously raising funds for local NGOs.

Anthony has fostered numerous partnerships with local and global non-governmental organizations to share expertise and improve the success rates of initiatives.

The Hall of International Tourism Heroes is open by nomination only to recognize those that have shown extraordinary leadership, innovation, and actions. Tourism Heroes go the extra step. There is never a fee or charge to become a tourism hero.

For more stories on tourism, heroes click here.

Nominate someone as a tourism hero click here

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Dmytro Makarov

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