08 April 2008

Changemakers: GeoTourism Competition Deadline Approaches, Get Your Ideas Heard!

Tourist or traveler, which do you prefer?

Do you like to see the sites and follow the herd or go off the beaten path on this lonely planet? Perhaps you are the kind of traveler who wants to leave no trace or perhaps you want to make some change happen by your presence.

Whatever you prefer, Ashoka's Changemakers.net wants to hear from you -- and now you have an opportunity to join the conversation.

People from all over the world are posting their comments and reactions to descriptions of geotourism projects in the Changemakers/National Geographic GeoTourism Challenge competition happening on-line. Right now. Really, go see for yourself.

There are currently 132 entries from 53 countries -- enough to inspire your travel for the next decade.

And while you're there you can vote for your favorites whether it's from Madagascar or Mongolia, Uruguay or Vanatu, an island nation archipelago in the South Pacific.

Three winners will each receive a cash prize of $5,000 and an opportunity to present their innovations at a Geotourism Challenge Summit this fall.

Check out the story of posted by a female German travel professional who moved to the Arkansas River Valley -- deep in Colorado's Rocky Mountains -- to establish "Real West Travel," an eco-friendly rating system for everything from motels and B&Bs to boutique hotels.

There's also "Lemon Tree Tours," a travel company that promotes "voluntourism" to promote health and cultural exchanges.

And one of my favorite places, Camp Denali and the North Face Lodge in Denali National Park, even has an entry.

The Geotourism Challenge is Changemakers’ 15th collaborative competition and draws on Ashoka’s 27 years of experience in identifying leading social entrepreneurs around the world. To date, the competitions have sourced over 2,000 local innovations on various themes from more than 125 countries.

Anyone can participate in this global search for innovations in tourism that sustain, enhance and preserve local culture and the environment.

Nominate a place that you enjoy and help recognize their innovative work in sustainable, responsible, holistic tourism.

You can also ask questions, comment, debate, collaborate on ideas, and learn more about how you can get involved.

So, what are you waiting for? Stop being an armchair traveler, go to:
Changemakers/National Geographic Geotourism Competition

[Disclosure: The author is a vice president with Ashoka, but does not work directly for Changemakers or National Geographic, although he has friends at both organizations.]