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$15,000 PRIZE FOR TOURISM INNOVATIONS COMPETITION - NOW OPEN ONLINE

WASHINGTON (Feb. 11, 2008)he National Geographic Society launches its first eotourism Challenge: Celebrating Places/Changing Livescollaborative competition to identify and showcase innovators in tourism development, management and marketing. The online competition, will raise awareness about how tourism can help sustain, enhance and preserve local culture and environment. Three winners will each receive a cash prize of $5,000 and an opportunity to present their innovations at a Geotourism Challenge Summit this autumn.

NGOCoordinated in partnership with Ashoka Changemakers, the global Geotourism Challenge will accept online applications through April 9, 2008. Applicants must demonstrate an innovation that furthers geotourism, defined as ourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents.During this 10-week period anyone can debate, endorse or provide additional information on the applicants. Travelers can nominate additional candidates and provide feedback about unique travel experiences and quality destinations. A distinguished panel of judges will review the applications and select a dozen finalists. The online community will then vote for three Geotourism Challenge winners.

ourism can be a positive force to help alleviate poverty, educate the public, and motivate preservation and conservation of cultural, natural and historic resources. When done poorly, tourism fails to provide local benefits and may destroy the distinctive assets of a destination. This Geotourism Challenge invites transparent discussion about ways to manage tourism better,said Jonathan B. Tourtellot, director of National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations (CSD). he Challenge will recognize effective innovations that can be replicated elsewhere. It a catalyst to seek ways to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy and experience great destinations.BR>
Anyone who completes the online nomination form is automatically registered for a chance to win two trips for two, including airfares, accommodation and spending money, anywhere in the world where WHL Travel operates. e are thrilled to be partnering with Ashoka Changemakers and National Geographic in this initiative,said Len Cordiner, president of World Hotel Link and its travel entity, whl.travel. he Global Geotourism Challenge represents a whole new way of thinking about how to harness the power of entrepreneurs and travelers to drive change in destination stewardship.BR>
The Geotourism Challenge will be held annually for the next three years, building a global online community of geotourism activists and geo-savvy travelers. Throughout the year information and resources will be posted on the Web site to help conservationists, preservationists, developers, marketers, civic groups, government agencies, businesses and individuals learn how to apply holistic geotourism principles locally.

The Geotourism Challenge is one of the key programs of the CSD. The Ashoka-CSD partnership was recognized as part of National Geographic Geotourism Commitment, presented at the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2007.

shoka vision, really, is to build an veryone a Changemakerworld a world in which more people give themselves the permission to make a difference. This is why Ashoka created Changemakers.net collaborative competitions to utilize online social networking opportunities to leverage and speed the spread of the insights and impact of social innovators,said Bill Drayton, Ashoka founder and CEO. ational Geographic is a key collaborator, whose commitment will ensure geotourism innovators, decision-makers and enthusiasts from around the world can gather together to inspire a global community to care and to act.BR>
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The National Geographic Society is one of the world largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to ncrease 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 8,000 scientific research projects and supports an education program combating geographic illiteracy.

Changemakers is building the world's first global online pen sourcecommunity that competes to surface the best social solutions to the world 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 27-year history identifying and selecting leading social entrepreneurs and its belief in veryone a Changemakerglobal society.

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