Today, the Studienkreis für Tourismus und Entwicklung e.V. (Institute for Tourism and Development), Ammerland, announced the winners of the international contest for socially responsible tourism.
True to its name, the TO DO! 2004 winner FINCA SONADOR from Costa Rica is an entire village community that arose from a former refugee project founded in 1979. As offshoot of the pan-European movement Longo Mai, FINCA SONADOR was originally conceived as a refugee centre for Nicaraguan families, which had to flee the terrorist regime of the dictator Somoza. In the meantime, however, FINCA SONADOR has grown into a village with 400 inhabitants, which today largely runs itself independently. The village community lives from its farming products, on the one hand, and from a special kind of touristic concept on the other: the kind of project tourism that is aimed at long-term visitors, is affordable for young people as well (at app. 7 US dollars for overnight accommodation and full board). An important feature of the project is that the visitors can and wish to become familiar with the daily lives of the local population. Therefore, FINCA SONADOR is oriented to people who are prepared to live together with the village community and to share their knowledge and ability in return for experiencing first-hand the meaning of "Convivencia" - the art of living and surviving together. Overall, FINCA SONADOR has 30 host families that can accommodate visitors. A small portion of the income is paid as "visitor's tax" to the local village tourism committee, which is the administrative body that ensures that as many families as possible are given a chance to participate in the income from tourism. At the same time, the committee also exercises a management and control function, for example, with a view to self-determination for the development of tourism, the training of guides and for determining the quality requirements for the tourist accommodations.
The development of the US-Nicaraguan community project FINCA ESPERANZA VERDE in San Ramón, Nicaragua, has a similar background (the ousting of the Nicaraguan Dictator Somoza and the subsequent outbreak of the civil war between the Sandinistas and the US-financed Contras). The motivation, however, is different: The founding of the FINCA ESPERANZA VERDE is grounded in the private initiative of the US citizen Lonna Harkrader, who together with her husband came to San Ramón in the early 1990s. In the face of the disastrous economic situation at the time, Lonna Harkrader felt ashamed "that a strong country like the USA, would fight against a weak country like Nicaragua until it nearly was destroyed". This was the motivating force behind the creation of today's touristic offer of FINCA ESPERANZA VERDE and its support NGO network of "Durham-San Ramón Sister Communities": On the one hand, the project provides holiday lodging in the beautiful mountains of San Ramón (max. 26 beds), on the other hand, it also offers stays with private families in San Ramón. This has meant that women could earn their own money, and that holiday guests could experience the everyday life of the locals and their extraordinarily friendly hospitality first-hand. In addition, it is important to know that the NGO network has facilitated the sale of practically the entire organically farmed coffee harvest of the participating Campesinos to an ecologically oriented coffee roaster in the USA. San Ramón-coffee now has its own trademark, with which the participating coffee growers can get nearly four times the world market price. The earnings have enabled the local population to realize numerous beneficial measures in San Ramón over the years: school projects, water supply, small credits, which today are administered and managed largely independently.
The third prize-winning project operates almost exclusively with local management. This is the CHUMBE ISLAND CORAL PARK tourism project developed by former German GTZ staff member Sibylle Riedmiller. The project is a part of an overall environmental, social and developmental project built around the Eco-lodge of Chumbe Island. Chumbe Island itself is a small island located twelve kilometres south of Zanzibar, which is almost entirely covered by forests. The island and the surrounding coral reef are protected as a maritime biodiversity reserve. Visitors to the island can learn much about our planet. However, the tourism provided on the island is and remains limited; a gem in the midst of an exemplary ecological environment created out of local materials. Naturally, at the same time tourism also brings just enough money to finance a) the environmental protection measures and b) pay the staff of 41 local employees and the environmental training programme for school children. According to the rationale for awarding the TO DO 2004 prize, former fishermen have meanwhile been transformed into "park rangers" and the island has already been visited by two thousand local school pupils and 160 teachers, who have come on day trips since 1998. If the approach taken with CHUMBE ISLAND CORAL PARK could also be successfully applied on a larger scale, given the right economic and social structures, this would provide a true benchmark example of well-conceptualised developmental tourism in a coastal region.
Responsible for the
text: Klaus Betz