Over the last decades, tourism has exploded into a booming industry. Families and individuals across the world often measure their quality of life in relation to their time spent on holiday. Hard-earned savings are spent on the days or few weeks spent in “exotic” places, enjoying the natural and cultural resources of the area.
As travelers and holidaymakers, how often have we stopped to ask ourselves what lasting footprints do we leave behind in the places we visit?
Tourism is largely considered a boost to the host country economy. Tourists bring foreign currency into the country, businesses are boosted and tourism can help motivate preservation and conservation of unique cultural, natural, and historic resources.
However, when badly managed, tourism can also destroy environmental and cultural distinctiveness, perpetuate great disparities in wealth, and limit education.
“Geotourism” is the new buzz-word in the tourism industry. The term was coined by National Geographic senior editor Jonathan Tourtellot and his wife Sally Bensusen, in response to requests for a term and concept more encompassing than ecotourism and sustainable tourism.
Geotourism is defined as: tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place-its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.
The goal of the Geotourism Challenge is to identify and showcase innovators – individuals and organizations – that support geotourism and present remarkable examples of innovation that demonstrate ways for tourism to do the most good and the least harm.
Deadline for entry was 16 April. The so far 210 applications will be shortlisted by a panel of judges, and on 28 May, the public is invited to vote and comment on the finalists.
They say a change is as good as a holiday – perhaps it’s time for your holiday to make a change!?