Posted tagged ‘National Geographic Society’

Geotourism Challenge Winners

January 15, 2009
Hubbard Medal, National Geographic Society. Aw...
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Fifteen groundbreaking projects from around the world are the finalists in the “Geotourism Challenge: Celebrating Places/Changing Lives” competition, a collaboration of National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations and Ashoka’s Changemakers. The online contest was created to discover and support entrepreneurs with innovative approaches to geotourism, defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents.

From the 323 entries submitted from 84 countries, these 15 finalists were selected:

1.    Wildlife Conservation Society, Gabon: Establishing Gabon as the gateway to Africa’s rainforests by highlighting its pristine nature and ancient cultures

2.    Blue Ventures Conservation, Madagascar: Using paying volunteer program as a strategy to protect threatened marine resources

3.    Banyon Tree Hotel, Maldives: Creating a marine lab to protect, conserve, research and educate about the coral reef environment

4.    CC Africa, South Africa: Pioneering land and wildlife conservation, and giving local rural communities a meaningful share of the benefits

5.    Chumbe Island Coral Park, Ltd., Tanzania: Creating a financially, ecologically and socially sustainable model to save the country’s coral reefs

6.    Crete’s Culinary Sanctuaries, Greece: Offering seminars for organic farmers, chefs, historians, mountaineers and other locals to share their knowledge about Crete’s culture and nature with visitors

7.    Eco-Health Farms, Latvia: Integrating ancestral traditions, nature protection and health prevention

8.    Evason Phuket & Six Senses Spa, Thailand: Setting up an eco-trail that shows locals and guests the resort’s environmental practices

9.    Exotica Cottages, Dominica: Integrating local expertise in gardening and conservation into the island’s ecotourism efforts

10. Great Baikal Trail, Russia: Establishing Russia’s first system of hiking trails to promote environmentally sustainable development

11. Rios Tropicales Lodge, Costa Rica: Protecting the rainforest through the collaboration of local communities, tourists and conservation organizations

12. Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust, India: Changing local mindsets towards snow leopards

13. 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking, Nepal: Training and empowering women to be guides in adventure tourism efforts

14. Tourism Board of Bhutan, Bhutan: Making geotourism development a national policy

15. Yachana Foundation, Ecuador: Offering lodging, meals, adventure and education through experiences with local Amazonian nature and culture

The four judges who reviewed submissions and selected the finalists were Keith Bellows, vice president of the National Geographic Society and editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler magazine; Susan Berresford, past president of the Ford Foundation; Leonard Cordiner, CEO of WHL Travel; and Nachiket Mor, president of the ICICI Foundation for Inclusive Growth.

“I was stunned at the quality of the applications,” said Bellows. “They showcased great innovation that can be exported to other countries, terrific successes against long odds and a far-reaching global distribution of projects. Not only did the entries make fascinating reading, but I was inspired by the vision, imagination, passion and entrepreneurship of the people who are making a difference in the lives of locals and travelers.”

The global online community can vote for the three winners, through Wednesday, June 11, at The winners will be announced on Tuesday, June 17, and each will receive a cash prize of US $5,000.

“The Geotourism Challenge received entries from the most countries for any collaborative competition we’ve held so far,” said Charlie Brown, executive director of Changemakers. “This shows that the Changemakers global online community is influential in surfacing innovators who are helping destinations benefit from tourism while protecting the assets that make their places special.”

National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations is dedicated to protecting the world’s distinctive places through wisely managed geotourism and enlightened destination stewardship.


National Geographic’s pilot project in Washington and Oregon

January 15, 2009
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National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations has joined organizations in Washington and Oregon to publicize the world-class natural and cultural attractions of the Central Cascades. The pilot project seeks to contribute to the economic health of communities by promoting geotourism: tourism that sustains and enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents.

A community-based nomination process launched today will be used to create a National Geographic “Geotourism MapGuide” for the region. The “Central Cascades” area designated for the map stretches from Mount Rainier National Park to Crater Lake National Park, including communities plus private and public lands in both states. The printed Central Cascades MapGuide will be available in September 2009. A parallel interactive Web site is also being developed.

“From Mount Rainier to Crater Lake, the spectacular beauty and recreational opportunities of the Central Cascades are unique,” said James Dion, associate director of the Center for Sustainable Destinations. “National Geographic is pleased to have the opportunity to spotlight this region and, in doing so, support and sustain it as one of the treasured natural places on the globe.”

Residents and visitors are invited to nominate for inclusion in the MapGuide the landmarks, attractions, activities, events and local businesses that define the region’s character and distinctive appeal. Nominations may be made through March 29, 2009, at . The site nomination process was opened today at a reception in Portland, where Dion officially announced the Central Cascades Geotourism Initiative and asked for public participation.

Public forums and presentations will be conducted in communities throughout the Central Cascades to encourage nominations and community involvement.

“Because those who live and recreate here know it best, participation by local residents is critical to the project’s success,” said Todd Davidson, CEO of Travel Oregon. “Our goal is to get nominations from across the region that identify the things people love best about the Cascades; those ‘gotta see, gotta go’ places we are most enthusiastic to share with visitors.”

Beyond open-to-the-public map point nomination, the MapGuide development process calls for oversight by a regional committee. The Central Cascades Stewardship Council was formed and met for the first time in Stevenson, Wash., on Dec. 4, 2008. It represents geotourism perspectives that include community leadership, historic preservation, natural resources, public lands management, indigenous peoples, traditional and local arts, agriculture, tourism promotion and local businesses.

“An inherent benefit of geotourism is connecting diverse interests under a common goal,” continued Dion. “The design of the MapGuide process, specifically in forming a regional stewardship council, encourages and builds mutually beneficial partnerships.”

A primary task for the Stewardship Council will be to review and sort nomination submissions prior to sending them to National Geographic. National Geographic will have final say on the selected sites, an estimated total of 150 map points.

Washington and Oregon both seek to grow rural tourism under their economic development strategies. They also acknowledge the sensitive balance between growth and conservation, particularly in the Central Cascades region. Both states look to identify and develop product that would be attractive to a “geotourist” as a means to achieve balanced economic growth.

“Stimulating economic growth in the Central Cascades by encouraging geotourism efforts is a win-win,” explained Marsha Massey, executive director, Washington State Tourism. “The potential for the region to be sought out for its intrinsic assets is tremendous.”

According to a 2002 study by National Geographic Traveler magazine and the U.S. Travel Association, more than 55 million adults in the United States could be described as “geotourists,” who travel to enjoy the distinctive character of places and want them to stay appealing. These travelers control more than half the household income of all U.S. travelers.

Additional perceived benefits of the MapGuide include calling forth the themes that are important to conserving the gems of the region; laying the groundwork for future collaboration of individual, business, community and conservation interests; building pride in the region and its communities; and inspiring stewardship of the region.

The National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations is providing overall project direction under Jonathan Tourtellot, the center’s director. National Geographic Maps, led by chief cartographer Allen Carroll, will handle cartography.

Coordinating this geotourism initiative in Washington and Oregon are the Central Cascades Project Advisory Committee, a coalition of Travel Oregon, Washington State Tourism, Sustainable Travel International, Rural Development Initiatives, Sustainable Northwest, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Significant funding and regional leadership are being provided by Travel Oregon, Washington State Tourism, USDA Forest Service/National Forest Scenic Byways Transportation and Tourism Planning, USDI Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Cultural Trust, Clackamas County Tourism Development Council, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Central Oregon Visitors Association, Convention and Visitors Association of Lane County Oregon, Portland Metro and the Columbia River Gorge Visitors Association.

The National Geographic Society has worked with community-based alliances to develop similar “Geotourism MapGuides” in several other regions around the world. MapGuide projects have been completed or are ongoing in Greater Yellowstone, the Crown of the Continent (Alberta, British Columbia, Montana), Guatemala, Sonoran Desert (Arizona, Sonora), Honduras, Peru, Baja California, Vermont and Appalachia.

The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 325 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; music; radio; films; books; DVDs; maps; exhibitions; school publishing programs; interactive media; and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more than 9,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program combating geographic illiteracy.

For more information, visit .

Journeys International Travel wins honors

January 15, 2009

National Geographic, publisher of Adventure Travel magazine awarded JOURNEYS International top honors for a second year in a row in the prestigious “Do-It-All Adventure Travel” category.

Buddhist monk in Kamu Village in a remote area of LaosNational Geographic Adventure surveyed clients of more than 240 adventure travel companies around the world and ranked them according to education, sustainability, quality of service, spirit of adventure and client satisfaction. Ranking in the top ten in all categories, JOURNEYS scored 100% for client satisfaction.

“We are honored by National Geographic Adventure and our clients for awarding us one of the highest recognitions in the adventure travel industry,” states Joan Weber. “We are dedicated to continuing to provide travelers with ecologically responsible trips that will delight the senses and renew the spirit.”

In 1978, before the terms eco-travel, sustainable travel, or responsible travel became popular, Will and Joan Weber, the founders and directors of JOURNEYS International, took a small group of open minded travelers on a journey to discover Nepal. Their hope for this trip was to provide their travelers with an emotional and spiritual experience as well as a physical one .  The tour involved learning about the local culture and the natural environment through direct, respectful interaction and contributing to the preservation of the Nepalese culture.  Since then, the JOURNEYS staff has continually searched for new destinations and new ways for clients to experience them. “At JOURNEYS, adventure travel means more than just a physical experience – it should be emotional, intellectual and spiritual too,” according to the editors of National Geographic Adventure. “Clients explore these inner realms during tours that might include a mediation session with Buddhist monks in Ladakh or hang time with local healers in the volcanic highlands of Guatemala”

The woman of Mbitini village welcome travelers with ceremonial escort.