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Geotourism Challenge 2010: Places on the Edge – Saving Coastal & Freshwater Destinations

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Washington DC – Ashoka’s Changemakers, National Geographic, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) are launching an online competition to search for innovative solutions for coastal, waterway, and island destinations that protect the environment and strengthen the heritage and livelihoods of local residents.

The Geotourism Challenge 2010: Places on the Edge – Saving Coastal & Freshwater Destinations seeks sustainable models from organizations of all sizes, individuals, and global corporations that enhance-rather than degrade-the unique character and beauty of oceans, rivers, bays, lakes, estuaries, and waterways, and the culture and heritage of their inhabitants. Entries are accepted until December 1, 2010.

“If you live by the water, or have visited shoreline destinations, you know the beauty and fragility of these places,” said Jonathan B. Tourtellot, National Geographic Fellow and founding director, Center for Sustainable Destinations. “Coastal destinations are under intense pressure from mass tourism, real estate development, and resource extraction. That can not only destroy natural habitats, it can degrade the very character of the place. Local culture, architecture, scenery-all are at risk. What’s more, the marine food chain depends on healthy shorelines. It’s up to us to keep these places intact, to continue enjoying them responsibly, and to learn from them.”

A panel of independent judges will select between 10 and 15 finalists from all of the entries submitted in the competition. From these 10-15 finalists, the Changemakers online community will vote for three winners, who will receive a prize of USD $5000 each.

The IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund will also provide up to a total US $5 million of co-financing for competition entries that provide innovative ideas for sustainable destination management by micro- to medium-sized companies in the Latin America and the Caribbean Region.

In addition, will select three winners from all of the Geotourism Challenge 2010 entrants to receive a free, lifetime, upgraded level of membership to, as well as access to services and mentoring to build and improve their adventure tourism product.

Judges for the Places on the Edge: Saving Coastal & Freshwater Destinations competition include Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General of the World Conservation Union; Dr. Sylvia Earle, Ocean Explorer and Founder and CEO of the Deep Search Foundation; and Ashoka Fellow, Yves Lesenfants, technical advisor of the IDB Multilateral Investment Fund (FOMIN), as well as the social founder of the Programa Andes Tropicales Foundation.

“We are confident that this online competition will identify sustainable business models for the world’s coasts and shorelines that respect the values of geotourism, said Sushmita Ghosh, President Emerita of Ashoka. “Tourism can sustain or enhance the geographical character of a place, its environment, heritage, aesthetics, culture and the well-being of its residents. We look forward to learning about many innovative ideas from the Places on the Edge entrants.”

Geotourism is defined by National Geographic as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place: its environment, heritage, culture, aesthetics, and the well-being of its residents.

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