Today the Studienkreis für Tourismus und Entwicklung e.V. (Institute for Tourism and Development), Ammerland, announced the award winners of the international contest for socially responsible tourism. On the occasion of the 40th International Tourism Exchange (ITB) in Berlin the TO DO! 2005 was awarded to one successful candidate from Peru and two from South Africa. The Laudatio was given by rtd. Federal Minister, Prof. Dr. Herta Däubler-Gmelin.
Among the winners of the TO DO! 2005 are: The rainforest lodge POSADA AMAZONAS from the Peruvian Province of Madre de Dios, and the South African regional development project KUVONA CULTURAL TOURS from the Province of Limpopo, as well as the certification organisation FAIR TRAIDE IN TOURISM SOUTH AFRICA (FTTSA). All three contestants have been examined by an assessor on site. According to the Chairman of the Institute, Armin Vielhaber, a noteworthy aspect in this eleventh round of the contest was that "for the second time, a prize can be awarded to a project in Peru." Moreover, it was an absolutely unprecedented event "that two projects were awarded with the TO DO! from the same country - in this case South Africa." Considering this year's award winners it became clear, said Vielhaber, "that the classical fair trade concept, i.e. socially responsible transaction, can also be realised and established in tourism."
The Peruvian award winner POSADA AMAZONAS illustrates how socially responsible transaction can be implemented in practical terms. In cooperation with the indigenous community of Infierno, it was not only possible to realise a cohesive eco-tourism concept together with the rainforest lodge at the Rio Tampopata (in the tributary region of the Amazon), but at the same time, the entrepreneurial interests of the Lima based Tour Operator Rainforest Expeditions could also be linked with the requirements and needs of the indigenous people. POSADA AMAZONAS was initiated as a joint venture, with the local community participating in ownership and profit from the very beginning. In addition Rainforest Expeditions was responsible for the training of the local staff and for their employment in qualified jobs. In this way, an exemplary participatory tourism model was created for the benefit of all - a project that also helps to sustain an ecologically, culturally and socially threatened habitat.
In the legal sense, KUVONA CULTURAL TOURS is considered to be an incoming agency, but in reality it is a regional tourism development project. In the local language "Kuvona" means "see" or "understand". KUVONA strives to bring tourists to the north of the South African Limpopo Province, to show them, through sensitively fashioned encounter programmes, the culture and lifestyle of the Venda and Shangaan tribes, and to implement a "softer" kind of tourism in partnership with the local communities. Groups of tourists are also taken to the bordering countries Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. Tourism is used as an instrument to create a large number of jobs in various sectors, such as for artists, craftsmen or tour guides. For the most part, activities are organised in cooperation with the sister company Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge, the regional Ribolla Tourism Association, and with tour operators such as SKR Studien Kontakt Reisen in Bonn, Germany.
The Pretoria-based certification organisation FAIR TRADE IN TOURISM SOUTH AFRICA (FTTSA) is given the first ever TO DO! Special Award. FTTSA's objectives and business practices considerably differ from those of many organizations engaged in tourism certification. The FTTSA-label (ranking as a Trademark) is not an eco-label. FTTSA focuses on the social, cultural and economic aspects of tourism development. As is the case for the TO DO! contest, its primary aim is to seek ways and means, to overcome poverty through participatory tourism development, to encourage, strengthen and preserve cultural identity, and to integrate a maximum number of social aspects (key issues in post-apartheid South Africa).
Crucial factors in the decision to award the prize were the impacts generated by the work of the FTTSA: Holiday makers from abroad can easily see through enterprises awarded with the FTTSA-label that they travel with a company which belongs to the "new South Africa". These certified enterprises strive to promote the South African "Black Economic Empowerment" programme. This quasi-legal venture wants to promote "an integrated and coherent socio-economic process that directly contributes to the economic transformation of South Africa and brings about significant increases in the number of black people that manage, own and control the country's economy, as well as significant decreases in income inequalities", by the year 2014. Accordingly, FAIR TRADE IN TOURISM SOUTH AFRICA finds itself in a position in which it can accompany and contribute to the reconciliation process in the new South Africa, as one important element amongst many. Its goal is to reshape the old structures in tourism, without condemning them, in such a way that a dynamism can arise that is needed for a society acting fair and with social responsibility.
During the award ceremony in Berlin, Mr. Hans-Ulrich Schudel, the Vice-President of the Basle Foundation said that the "Swiss Foundation for Solidarity in Tourism" (SST) had again donated prize money amounting to SFR 5,000 per award winner for the promotion and support of such political and regional developments. The proceeding of the projects awarded with the TO DO! prize "is perfectly compatible with the objectives of our foundation" said Schudel. The "Swiss Foundation for Solidarity in Tourism" supports "organisations, projects and initiatives that promote a sustainable tourism development" because they make a contribution, mentioned Schudel, "to sustaining the livelihoods of the people in tourism destination areas, to improving their economic standards and to protecting the environment."
Since 2004, the "Europäische Reiseversicherung AG", too, supports TO DO! award winners and donates prize money of altogether € 2,100. Helmut Held, Chairman of Sales and Marketing of the "Europäische Reiseversicherung AG" said during the award ceremony: "Every year the TO DO! winners illustrate - and particularly so the 2005 winners from Peru and South Africa - that it is possible to take account of the requirements of the local people through participation in their projects." He emphasised that the award-winning projects were always compatible with the principles of environment protection, and he was mindful of the fact that it would be useless if an insurance company "assists the people in the case of illness or accident during their travels abroad while travelling as such becomes less attractive due to the damage it causes to nature and environment." The "Europäische Reiseversicherung AG" was committed to sustainable tourism and the entire company fully supported efforts to this effect, said Helmut Held when he congratulated the winners of the TO DO! prize 2005.
It was also very good to see, said Managing Director Dietlind von Laßberg, that new supporters for the TO DO! contest could be found: In 2005, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the Vienna based tour operator "VASCO - Die gute Reise" joined the circle of supporters. It is the first time that an enterprise from the travel industry has financially supported the TO DO! contest in order to qualify tourism development on the part of the suppliers.
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text: Klaus Betz