Press Information

Ammerland, March 9th, 2003
No. 4a/2003
185 lines at 50 strokes

Contest Socially Responsible Tourism:
The TO DO! 2002 award winners are from Morocco and Jordan

Today the Institute for Tourism and Development, Ammerland, announced the award winners of the international contest for "socially responsible tourism". On the occasion of the 37th International Tourism Exchange (ITB) in Berlin, the TO DO!2002 was awarded to two candidates. The award winners are from Morocco and Jordan. For both nations this is the first time to be represented among the TO DO! winners. A possible third prize- winning project considered by the jury could not stand up to the appraiser's scrutiny in view of the criteria of the contest.
Of the total of 17 entries received from 14 countries the award went to the tourism and social project SOCIETE RENARD BLEU TOUAREG in Zagora, southern Morocco, and to the DANA NATURE RESERVE in Wadi Dana, southern Jordan. The fact that for the first time tourism projects in Arabic-Islamic countries are given the TO DO! award is particularly appreciate", said the Chairman of the Institute, Armin Vielhaber, "at a time when it is increasingly important to promote mutual understanding between holiday makers and hosts of different cultures and religions through encounter."
"For the appraisal of the projects it was also helpful that information on profit making and equity accumulation was taken into account" emphasised Managing Director, Dietlind von Laßberg. "The best participatory project is of little use unless it is also oriented towards economic sustainability."
"With the TO DO! contest the Institute for Tourism and Development puts tourism at the level it deserves, i.e. the political level. After all, the positive and negative aspects of tourism can be felt in every realm of the society and community", said the long-standing ARD correspondent Mr. Schirmbeck who gives the laudatio at the TO DO award winning ceremony. This can be seen from the Tourism and Social project SOCIETÉ RENARD BLEU TOUAREG. This TO DO! award winner is a tourism- oriented organisation through which ambitious cultural and social projects, family sponsorships and educational measures are financed. SOCIETÉ RENARD BLEU TOUAREG was founded by desert nomads in the southern Moroccan Sahara and it is owned by them. Within the nomadic Confederation of the "Aaribe" it is the Touareg tribe of the "Nouaji" that is actively in charge of the project. The initiators of all the measures are the two umbrella associations working together, Azalay Morocco and Azalay e.V. Germany, which facilitated the foundation of SOCIETÉ RENARD BLEU TOUAREG: The project is aimed at strengthening the Touareg, who are threatened in their nomadic way of life because political factors (Western Sahara conflict, closing of the border through Algeria), ecological factors (water shortage, desertification) and climatic factors (drought, shortage of fodder, loss of herds) have clearly deteriorated the livelihood of the Nouaji over the last decades. Within three years of the formation of the SOCIETÉ RENARD BLEU TOUAREG a whole range of activities has developed, covering two major fields of activities.

In the area of tourism activities the organisation offers one- and two- week desert hiking tours or stays at camp sites. The programmes are carried out exclusively under the leadership of tribal members of the Nouaji, in their ancestral region and in a traditional way. Each group of holiday makers forms so to speak a small caravan with dromedaries (loads). The night is spent in sleeping bags under a (star)clear sky or in nomad tents. Thus, a kind of tourism is practised that is completely adjusted to the desert biotope, and that offers the visitors authentic insights into the culture and lifestyle of the Nouaji, while also facilitating an understanding among nations which is more than pure lip-service. A caravan conceived in this way is associated with various advantages for the nomadic guides.

  • They can continue carrying out an activity that is familiar to them and which they highly value. But instead of transporting salt they are now guiding people through the desert, demonstrating hospitality and warmth.
  • Taking their background into account they earn above- average wages (double that normally earned in the region).
  • On these tours the tourists will sooner or later encounter the respective social projects. These could be implemented because at least 8 percent of the price for the holiday package is withheld for such purposes. In addition there are also donations. They have also succeeded in getting German funds through development cooperation.

In the field of social activities SOCIETÉ RENARD BLEU TOUAREG substantially concentrates on:

  • the construction of 5 wells in the desert (absolutely life-sustaining bases for man and animal).
  • the import of medical supplies (e.g. second-hand wheel-chairs, hearing aids etc.),
  • the initiatives to treat eye diseases (chronic conjunctivitis, cataract),
  • the establishment of a family sponsorship programme which aims at assisting those families which were forced to abandon their nomadic way of life (because of drought and fodder shortage) to cope with the transition into the sedentary life of the city.. And finally, as the biggest project supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ):
  • the now completed construction of a school for nomadic children with an integrated health station - in the midst of the desert region of Chegaga. This is the best strategic location for the tribe and the Aaribe Confederaton, because sooner or later all the families (with their children) pass through this area.

Through the establishment of SOCIETÉ RENARD BLEU TOUAREG the nomadic tribes were able to act on their own authority, and through the tourism activities offered they see the chance to safeguard the values entrenched in their culture. The appraiser is of the opinion that this is by far the best procedure not to remain at the mercy of opening and development processes but to shape them actively.

The population of today's DANA NATURE RESERVE has been passively experiencing the development process for many years. Until the people involved - partly because of international influence, partly because of their own initiatives - have learned from their mistakes and have taken the path of participation.

The TO DO! award winner DANA NATURE RESERVE (308 square km) is a measure to create a regional model which is to contribute to the protection of nature and to socio-economic development - while at the same time safeguarding the existing culture in the villages involved. The motto is: "Helping Nature - Helping People". The DANA NATURE RESERVE was established by the Jordanian Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) on behalf of the Jordanian government. It is situated along the link road between Amman and Petra.

In the nature reserve itself one can find, apart from 25 rare and endangered animal species, almost 100 archaeological sites. Fourteen Bedouin tribes live in the buffer zone surrounding the nature reserve and in the key zone itself and have been using this area for centuries for their livelihood (animal keeping, firewood, hunt). There are altogether 15, 000 people. But at the beginning of the project (1994) decisions were made without involving the affected people. Nature conservation was practiced from the top down without the participation of and compensation for the population affected. As a consequence resistance flared up.

Things changed, however, since Jordan is as a signatory of the International Bio-diversity Convention, (after the Rio processes of 1992). The criteria for the granting of funds (here: 1.13 million US dollars from a development programme of the World Bank/United Nations for the financing of personnel, training measures and infrastructure of the DANA NATURE RESERVE) require that the interests of the affected population are to be considered. Therefore, the local population was gradually involved through consultations and compensation programmes. Through this process a participative project has gradually been developed - the decisive "must" criterion for a TO DO! award winner.

From the end of 1999 on, the income from tourism in the DANA NATURE RESERVE has been sufficient to cover costs. The entrance fees of 200,000 Euro annually cover most of the expenses for the park's management. The roughly 35,000 visitors per year are comprised of 50 percent Jordanians and 50 percent foreigners. Three factors essentially promoted the development of emancipation among the staff and the participation in decision-making on the part of the population with regard to planning and implementation of measures:

  1. The strengthened self-confidence of the staff resulting from the fact that they are standing on their own feet economically.
  2. The training in participatory development methods offered by the RSCN headquarter, and
  3. The great motivation of the staff employed in 2000/2001 who appliy these participatory development methods in their dealing with colleagues and the population.
Those visiting the nature reserve in Wadi Dana and hike on one of the nine hiking paths through the protected areas, or who stay in camps or guest houses, are surrounded by a range of participatory measures, which are to the benefit of the population and nature conservation. For example through:
  • the establishment of a number of workshops (alternative income generation) for jewellery, leather and soap production or fruit processing. Today, these products are marketed through the tourism business as well as in domestic Jordanian markets.
  • The share of income gained through the tourism industry (entrance fees, profits from overnight stays).
  • Increased employment of local staff (meanwhile all 63 people employed in the DNR come from the Wadi Dana region, 29 in the above-mentioned workshops, 34 in the park management and tourism sector)
  • the support of the co-operatively organised Dana Ecotourism Cooperative (DEC) with roughly 80 families as members which runs a hotel with 26 beds.
  • the support of organisations in the surrounding villages by a so-called Community Liaison Officer, who assists with the identification of development activities and with fundraising for the implementation of the measures planned.
After the appraisal of the expert, the jury was convinced of this project. In the course of this appraisal it became clear that the leadership recognise the principles of communication, transparency and participation, on the one hand, and that they were able to correct any insufficiencies that have arisen, on the other hand. The motto "Helping Nature - Helping People" has thus become an outstanding example.

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The contest criteria of the TO DO! for a socially responsible tourism centre around the concern for the different interests of the local people in the planning and implementation of tourism projects. This should happen through active participation of the local people. The risks and chances of such endeavours must be transparent to all parties involved and so must be the extent and spread of the economic benefit. Further criteria for the contest are: the guarantee of the attractiveness of jobs in tourism as well as measure to enhance and strengthen the local culture.

Address in Morocco:

Av. Mohamed V, Zagora, Maroc
Tel.: 00212-61348413
Fax: 00212-44846251

... in Germany:

Azalay -Brücke von Mensch zu Mensch -
Hilfe zur Erhaltung der nomadischen Lebensform e.V.
Huteweg 2, D-35085 Ebsdorfergrund
Tel. 06424-964409
Fax: 06424-964408


c/o Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, P.O. Box 1215
Amman 11941, Jordan
Tel. 00962-6-5337931
Fax: 00962-6-53474411

The TO DO!-Contest is organised by:

Studienkreis für Tourismus und Entwicklung e.V.

in co-operation with:

German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
German Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development
Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism
Europäische Reiseversicherung AG
The Protestant Churches' Development Services (EED) - Tourism Watch
Catholic Foreign Office of the German Bishops' Conference
Messe Berlin GmbH
Austrian Development co-operation in the Foreign Ministry/ respect

Among this year's supporters of the "TO DO!" are:

Royal Air Maroc
Moroccon Tourist Board

Royal Jordanian Jordan Tourist Board

The TODO!-Contest will once more be announced from May 2002 and it will again be supported by government and church bodies as well as by enterprises in the tourism sector.


Responsible for the text: Klaus Betz