Press Release
 


Ammerland, 13th March 2005
No. 05a/2005
126 lines at 60 strokes


10 Years TO DO! - Contest for Socially Responsible Tourism:

The winners are from Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Zanzibar. The prize money is donated by the "Swiss Foundation for Solidarity in Tourism (SST)" and the firm of "Europäische Reiseversicherung."

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.
This is the tenth time since 1995 that the TO DO! 2004 prize has been awarded in the framework of the International Tourism Exchange (Internationale Tourismusbörse, ITB) in Berlin. This year's winners are three successful competitors from Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Zanzibar/Tanzania: PROJETKTOURISM FINCA SONADOR from San Isidro, Costa Rica; the US-Nicaraguan Community Project FINCA ESPERANZA VERDE from San Ramón, Nicaragua, and the Tourism and Environmental Protection Project CUMBE ISLAND CORAL PARK LTD. from Zanzibar, Tanzania. All three competitors measured up well to the professional appraisal conducted at each location. According to Studienkreis Chairman Armin Vielhaber, one of the special as well as unprecedented aspects of the tenth round of the competition was that a single destination, in this case Tanzania, received the TO DO! Trophy for its second project. As Vielhaber said this sends a "positive signal from a continent, which is in particular need of our attention and solidarity." Moreover, another noteworthy feature of the TO DO! winners from Costa Rica and Nicaragua is that the project concepts of both prizewinners place special importance on personal encounters in addition to fulfilling the TO DO! criteria - "in special consideration of young people." If one third of 14-29-year old Germans (or app. of 4.6 million young people) would journey to developing countries for personal encounters with the local people away from the tourist centres on their holidays, "we should be particularly pleased about every encounter-oriented and at the same time socially responsible tourism project in the so-called third world". "All the more so since approximately 80 percent of all TO DO! prize-winning projects come from developing countries," added Studienkreis Managing Director Dietlind von Laßberg."
For the Swiss Foundation for Solidarity in Tourism (SST), which is dedicated to the support and promotion of such projects, this was an appropriate occasion to donate 5.000 Swiss Franks per award winner, said the Vice-President of the Basel-based foundation, Hans Ulrich Schudel during the award ceremony in Berlin. The approach taken by the projects awarded the TO DO! prize fitted "seamlessly with the goals of the foundation" underscored Schudel. The "Swiss Foundation for Solidarity in Tourism (SST)" has traditionally supported "organisations, projects and initiatives, which promote the sustainable development of tourism", because they have been able to contribute to the maintenance livelihood for the population in the tourist destinations, to improve their economic conditions and to protect the environment." According to Board of Management Member Helmut Held, such goals "meet with the total approval" of the Europäische Reiseversicherung, which is also why it wished to award "the activities of the three prize-winners with an additional total of 2.100 Euro prize money."
With this contest, the Studienkreis für Tourismus und Entwicklung reminds us, said Parlamentary State Secretary Uschi Eid, "that it is quite significant for the success of a development project that the local people are the ones sitting on the driving seat. It is their responsibility and ownership that decides on the weal and woe of development processes. And what is true for development projects cannot be wrong for tourism development."

The focus of the TO DO!'s contest criteria for socially ersponsible tourism is on consideration of the various interests of the local population in the planning and performance of tourism projects, which is to take place with active participation by the locals. The chances and risks associated with such projects, as well as the extent and outreach of the economic benefits, must be made transparent to all participants. The contest criteria also include ensuring the attractiveness of jobs in tourism and prophylactic measures for preserving and strengthening the local culture.



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.

Adress:

Comité de Turismo
FINCA SONADOR
Cooperativa Longo MaiApdo:292
8000 San Isidro de El General P.Z. Costa Rica

Tel./Fax: +-506-771- 4239
E-Mail: zsp@gmx.net
und: nueva@racsa.co.cr

Web: www.sonador.org



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.

Address in the USA:

Lonna Harkrader
Finca Esperanza Verde
Durham-San Ramón Sister
Communities, 1320 Sheperd Street,
Durham, NC 27707, USA

Tel. 001-919 489-1656
Fax:001-919 493-5908

E-Mail: info@durham-sanramon.org
Web: www.durham-sanramon.org
         www.fincaesperanzaverde.org

Adress in Nicaragua:

Yelba Valenzuela
Finca Esperanza Verde
Apart. P # 28 Matagalpa/Nicaragua

Tel./Fax: 00505-612-5003
E-mail: herma@ibw.com.ni
Web: www.fincaesperanzaverde.org
         www.sanramonecolodge.org



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.

Adress

CHUMBE ISLAND CORAL PARK
Sibylle Riedmiller/Helen Peeks
P.O.Box 3203, Zanzibar/Tanzania

phone/fax: +255-24-2231040
E-mail: info@chumbeisland.com
Web: www.chumbeisland.com



______________________________________

Responsible for the text: Klaus Betz



 

The TO DO!-Contest is organized by:

Studienkreis für Tourismus und Entwicklung e.V.

in cooperation with the long-term sponsors:

Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development
Federal Ministry for Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
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

The TO DO!-Contest will accept new applications from contestants from the end of April 2005 with renewed support from government and church organizations as well as companies from the tourism industry.