08.10.2018 - Seefeld

Opening our eyes to new perspectives!

From Latin America, Africa, and Asia: In this year’s selection round for the TODO Awards 2019, six promising projects from three continents have emerged as nominees, out of a total of 19 applications.

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With its international contest the Institute for Tourism and Development (Studienkreis für Tourismus und Entwicklung e.V.) annually awards tourism projects initiated and/or sustained by the local population which use resources in an eco-friendly manner and contribute to sustainable local economies.

The “Andean Lodges“ in Peru

Cusco’s sacred mountain Apu Ausangate is regarded as the creator of life and protector of the indigenous peoples of the Andes. In 2006, the communities of Chillca and Osefina in the Cordillera Vilcanota founded the association “Andean Lodges“ which promotes sustainable tourism and the protection of cultural heritage. Along the Apu Ausangate route with its bizarre rock formations, glaciers and lakes the organisation offers several days’ guided trekking tours with accommodation at their own four eco-lodges. Along the route over a length of 50 kilometres, guests learn about the flora and fauna of the high mountain ecosystem, and about the crafts and trade routes of the indigenous people who traditionally travel as herders and merchants with their llama and alpaca herds. The tourists’ luggage is also transported by the pack animals – a way in which tourism supports traditional means of transport and subsistence strategies. Stops along the route include the communities of Chillca and Osefina where visitors get insights into the textile crafts of the Andes – known for their colourful patterns full of symbolism.

“Awamaki“ in Peru

In the remote indigenous Quechua communities of the Peruvian Andes, the women with their traditional textile business and handicraft play a key role in sustaining the livelihoods of their families. The Awamaki association, situated in the sacred Inca valley, is a local organisation which in cooperation with a US American NGO supports women’s professional self-employment. Founded in 2009, the organisation develops strategies to provide small businesses with global market access. The objective is to increase the income of the 170 women involved and fight poverty in the communities. Apart from fair trade in traditional handicraft, Awamaki focuses on sustainable tourism projects in rural communities, having visitors stay with local families. The touristic programme is multifaceted, too. Apart from excursions to the rain forest, a variety of handicraft courses are offered: spinning alpaca wool, dying textiles, or weaving unusual designs. In this way, visitors get opportunities to experience Quechua culture hands-on.

“Campi Ya Kanzi“ in Kenya

Some may find themselves reminded of Ernest Hemingway’s classic “The Green Hills of Africa“, though without hunt: In the South of Kenya, at the feet of the legendary Chyulu Hills amidst untouched nature and wilderness lies the luxury eco-lodge ”Campi Ya Kanzi“ which offers a variety of safari tours: to the rain forest, bird watching, or to see lions and elephants in the savannah. The camp was founded in 1996 by Luca Belpietro from Italy. What is special about it is that it is situated within a private Maasai reserve and run in cooperation with the land owners. The local Maasai of the Kuku Group Ranch therefore directly benefit from tourism. The camp creates jobs and the “conservation fees“ that guests need to pay go to the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust (MWCT) – for habitat protection and for educational and health projects of the Maasai. The 5-star lodge is an eco-pioneer, using solar energy to be completely CO2 neutral, and recycled rain water for its water supply. The Campi Ya Kanzi has already won several awards and proves that luxury and sustainability do not necessarily exclude each other.

The “Hunting and Conservation Alliance of Tajikistan“

Almost half of Tajikistan’s land area lies at an altitude of more than 3000 metres. With its high mountain landscape, the country mainly attracts nature loving tourists. The “Hunting and Conservation Alliance of Tajikistan (H&CAT)“ consists of eight community based NGOs and five small family businesses. Since it was founded in 2008, the organisation has aimed at promoting rural tourism in the sparsely populated mountain regions. The members of H&CAT benefit from the regions being marketed in a centralised manner, as tourism is an important source of income in the structurally weak country. Accommodation for visitors can be provided in the communities of the “conservancies“ at their own guest houses or with local families – a unique opportunity to get into contact with the different cultures and ethnic groups of the different regions and to see how their traditions influence land use, architecture, and ways of living. Apart from guided hiking tours that include wildlife and bird watching, the tourism programme also includes other activities, such as horseback riding. A special highlight might be the ascent of the “Karl Marx“ and ”Friedrich Engels“ peaks.

“Open Eyes“ in India

India is a country on the move, which also refers to increasing social debates on gender equality and the new role of women. The organisation “Open Eyes“ was founded in 2011 by Anna Alaman from Spain. The project “Women in Tourism“ is aimed at promoting equal opportunities for women. In cooperation with other local partner organisations, new jobs and sources of income in tourism have been created. The women work as artists, massage therapists, taxi drivers, or tourist guides in urban settings. The tourism products and services are concentrated in New Delhi, Jaipur, and Jageshwar and include wellness, excursions, and guided city tours, e.g. to the markets and neighbourhoods of Delhi. The organisation not only takes care of financial and organisational matters, but also trains the women, including blind women, for their new tasks. In this way, “Open Eyes“ helps them develop a new self-conception – and opens the eyes to different perspectives.

”Kiulu Farmstay“ in Malaysia (Borneo)

Malaysia attracts tourists with spectacular beaches, lush jungle landscapes, and its diversity of cultures, ethnic groups, and religions.Kiulu Farmstay“ is a community based tourism project in the area of Kiulu, supported by the tour operator “Borneo Eco Tours“. In 2015, the first eco-lodge named “Fig Tree“ was built in the typical longhouse architecture of Borneo, more lodges are planned. If they would like to, visitors may also stay with families in the ten communities that are now involved. The farm stay programme wants to encourage guests to take part in the every day life of the local communities and invites them to meet local people: during local sports like bamboo rafting on the river or while learning aboriginal hunting techniques. Those who prefer more contemplative activities may take cooking classes, tap rubber, or help with the paddy harvest. The project was launched in order to open up new economic possibilities for the local population through tourism while familiarizing visitors with the special atmosphere and authenticity of the country.

The TO DO Award 2019 Award Ceremony will take place on 7th March 2019, 4:30 pm at the Palais am Funkturm, ITB Berlin. Representatives of all projects will attend the award ceremony.

Text: Stephanie Arns

English translation: Christina Kamp

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