National Geographic and Ashoka Changemakers have announced the second annual global Geotourism Challenge. This year’s theme is Power of Place — Sustaining the Future of Destinations.  National Geographic is committed to protecting the world’s distinctive places. To further our mission, we welcome you to the second annual global Geotourism Challenge: Power of Place—Sustaining the Future of our Destinations, the second of three annual collaborative competitions.

This collaborative competition is designed to identify and showcase innovators, both individuals and organizations, that directly or indirectly promote tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.

In recent decades, tourism has exploded into one of the largest, most all-pervasive industries on Earth. Even in difficult times, hundreds of millions of us now travel. When done well, tourism can alleviate poverty, educate the public, and motivate preservation and conservation of unique cultural, natural, and historic resources. This beneficial type of responsible tourism is most attracted to destinations that are well taken care of.

But when done poorly, tourism may destroy environmental and cultural distinctiveness, perpetuate great disparities in wealth, and educate few. Careless or greedy local leaders may encourage the trend, seeking short-term profits rather than sustainability, and excessive quantity instead of high quality.

The competition is open to all types of organizations (charitable, private, or public) from all countries. Entries must describe how a program or activity is new and different. Projects must be beyond the idea stage and able to prove success on the local, regional, or global level. The innovation should demonstrate the potential to be successfully replicated in other places and to become self-sustaining.

Competition entries will be posted online and made available for anyone to view and collaborate with by providing new ideas and connections to new resources, and by asking insightful questions. A panel of judges will select finalists from the entries, and the Changemakers community will then vote online to select three award winners. The three winners will each receive a cash prize of $5,000.

Entries must be submitted in English or Spanish. Visit the Changemakers Web site for complete competition information and to nominate or enter a program.

There is a dynamic relation between tourists and the places that host them.  Help us identify innovative ways for that interaction to do the most good and the least harm. We seek information on innovators from around the world and from every kind of business, government, or organization–large and small– who are helping destinations benefit from tourism while protecting the assets that make their places special.

Who are the best Geotourism Challenge candidates? People and organizations that build community pride, increase knowledge about a place, help to protect or enrich the character of a place, and improve residents’ well-being.

Please share your knowledge with us and with the world. Even if you do not nominate a candidate or enter the competition, visit Ashoka’s Changemakers community discussion and comment online. Whether you are a traveler, tourism professional, or resident, you may already be working to improve a particular destination, to make that locale more attractive for both visitors and the local population.  Your insights will be valuable and help shape the growing field of geotourism.  Together, we can move tourism toward a model that protects and enhances the world.  Including your own favorite places.

Deadline: May 20, 2009

For more information, visit Ashoka’s Changemakers 2009 Geotourism Challenge Page

© 2009, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Tracey de Morsella (323 Articles)

Tracey de Morsella started her career working as an editor for US Technology Magazine. She used that experience to launch Delaware Valley Network, a publication for professionals in the Greater Philadelphia area. Years later, she used the contacts and resources she acquired to work in executive search specializing in technical and diversity recruitment. She has conducted recruitment training seminars for Wachovia Bank, the Department of Interior and the US Postal Service. During this time, she also created a diversity portal called The Multicultural Advantage and published the Diversity Recruitment Advertising Toolkit, a directory of recruiting resources for human resources professionals. Her career and recruitment articles have appeared in numerous publications and web portals including Woman Engineer Magazine, Monster.com, About.com Job Search Channel, Workplace Diversity Magazine, Society for Human Resource Management web site, NSBE Engineering Magazine, HR.com, and Human Resource Consultants Association Newsletter. Her work with technology professionals drew her to pursuing training and work in web development, which led to a stint at Merrill Lynch as an Intranet Manager. In March, she decided to combine her technical and career management expertise with her passion for the environment, and with her husband, launched The Green Economy Post, a blog providing green career information and covering the impact of the environment, sustainable building, cleantech and renewable energy on the US economy. Her sustainability articles have appeared on Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, Chem.Info,FastCompany and CleanTechies.