The National Geographic Society and Ashoka's Changemakers have opened the entry process for the second annual Geotourism Challenge to showcase how tourism done well sustains, enhances and preserves local culture and the environment. The competition, The Geotourism Challenge 2009: Power of Place - Sustaining the Future of Destinations, will identify people worldwide who have introduced the most innovative practices in tourism and destination stewardship. The Global Geotourism Challenge will accept online applications at www.changemakers.net/geotourismchallenge through May 20, 2009 from candidates who demonstrate an innovation that protects destination quality and furthers geotourism, defined by National Geographic as "tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents."
During this period, anyone can debate, endorse or provide additional information on the entries. A panel of judges will review the applications and select the finalists. The online community will then vote for the Geotourism Challenge winners, who will be announced in several months' time. Each winner will receive a cash prize of $5,000.
Last year's Geotourism Challenge produced 320 nominations from 83 countries. The three winners and 12 finalists gathered at National Geographic's Washington, D.C., headquarters in October to present their innovative business models at the first Geotourism Change Summit attended by 150 country dignitaries and representatives of funding institutions and tourism-industry, conservation and preservation groups. The competition also created an online community of geotourism activists, ranging from preservationists to developers. You can find out more about past winners on the Changemakers web site.