COSTA RICA-Ríos Tropicales has been selected as a finalist in the inaugural Geotourism Challenge, sponsored by The National Geographic Society and Ashoka’s Changemakers. The challenge’s goals are very similar to those of Rios Tropicales: to raise awareness about how tourism can help sustain, enhance and preserve both the local culture and the environment. Voting continues online at www.changemakers.net/geotourismchallenge through June 11, 2008.Since the company’s founding in 1985, Ríos Tropicales has been focusing on both human welfare/advancement and environmental stewardship. These efforts are inspired by complementary goals of wanting to protect and conserve the rivers and rainforests of Costa Rica while empowering and engaging the local community members to play leading roles in this effort for their own economic, educational, health, and soulful well-being. In particular, the rainforest restoration and sustainable community development programs caught the eyes of the expert judges’ panel, who selected Ríos Tropicales as one of the 15 finalists for the award. Unlike other outfitters, Ríos Tropicales has an integrative approach to sustainable tourism – local residents are both partners and employees of the resort. For example, the resort partnered with the indigenous Cabecar Indians to help stop the poaching and illegal fishing along the Pacuare, and hired several of the Indians as hiking and naturalist guides. This proved to be invaluable in educating both locals and clients on the need for reforestation and rainforest wildlife protection.
As a finalist, Ríos Tropicales will have the opportunity to present at The Geotourism Challenge Summit this fall. Three winners will be determined by votes cast online at www.changemakers.net/geotourismchallenge, and will each receive $5,000.
The Geotourism Challenge is Changemakers’ 15th collaborative competition and draws on Ashoka’s 27 years of experience in identifying leading social entrepreneurs around the world. To date, the competitions have sourced more than 2,000 local innovations on various themes from more than 125 countries. Ríos Tropicales is honored to be part of this global movement to create social change through the tourism sector.
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About National Geographic Society
The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 300 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; music; radio; films; books; DVDs; maps; school publishing programs; interactive media; and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more than 8,800 scientific research projects and supports an education program combating geographic illiteracy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com or visit the Web page for the Center for Sustainable Destinations at www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/sustainable.About Ashoka’s Changemakers
Changemakers is building the world’s first global online “open source” community that competes to surface the best social solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. Changemakers focuses on thematic, collaborative competitions, inviting innovators from around the world to profile and collaborate with a global community of investors, thought leaders and enthusiasts. To date Changemakers has launched 14 successful collaborative competitions and attracted more than 2,000 high-impact solutions from more than 125 countries. Changemakers builds on Ashoka’s 27-year history identifying and selecting leading social entrepreneurs and its belief in “Everyone a Changemaker” global society. Get involved. Find out more about how to nominate, enter, comment and vote in our collaborative competitions at www.changemakers.net
About Ríos Tropicales
Ríos Tropicales, an eco-adventure company specializing in river and rainforest adventures in Costa Rica, is committed to providing sustainable tourism options to visitors. Unlike many other Costa Rican outfitters, Ríos Tropicales is owned and operated by native Central Americans, and they employ local Costa Ricans – more than 95% of the staff is native to the area. They have even hired indigenous Indian guides to share their traditional hunting and Indian trails with guests on hikes and for travel. The Ríos Tropicales Lodge, located on the banks of the Pacuare River, is a model of sustainable development and operations – it is powered by locally renewable energy, was built largely with existing resources, and wastes are recycled, composted, or treated, as appropriate. Ríos Tropicales recognizes that any disruption of this interrelated eco-system will have material negative effects on the diverse wildlife population, local indigenous Indian and native communities, and the regenerative health of the rainforest, and therefore rigorously adhere to “Leave No Trace” practices. For more information on the programs or adventures offered at Ríos Tropicales, visit www.riostropicales.com