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IDB, The National Geographic Society to jointly promote sustainable tourism

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and The National Geographic Society have joined efforts to promote initiatives aimed at developing sustainable tourism in Latin America and the Caribbean.

IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno and John Fahey, President of The National Geographic Society (NGS), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at NGS headquarters in Washington, D.C., with members of the IDB’s Office of Outreach and Partnerships (ORP) and the Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) present.

“This initiative focuses on engaging other private and public sector partners and foundations into scaling-up the financing and implementation of innovative programs that adhere to geotourism principles,” said Moreno.

Geotourism, as defined by NGS, stands for “tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place – its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and well-being of its residents.”

Earlier this year, National Geographic and Ashoka Changemakers launched the Geotourism Challenge:  Celebrating Places, Changing Lives, a global competition to highlight and recognize innovators in geotourism.

Also this year, and building on the IDB’s experience in sustainable tourism, the MIF’s Donors Committee approved a line of up to US $ 10 million in grants to finance projects that meet geotourism criteria.

Within the IDB, ORP and the MIF will work together to mobilize additional partners and resources to further sustainable tourism in Latin America and the Caribbean, where tourism has become a growing source of income.

Last year, tourist arrivals rose by 14 percent in Central America and by 13 percent in South America, in contrast with the 5 percent average growth rate for tourism activities in the rest of the world during the same period.

As agreed in the MOU, the MIF will share with National Geographic all its lessons learned, best practices and methodologies developed for sustainable tourism in recent years, which include experiences from more than 25 projects in 20 countries.

ORPs mission is to develop, expand and strengthen the IDB Group's relationships and strategic alliances with public and private sector partners of the development community, including foundations, corporations, individual philanthropists, multilateral and bilateral institutions, IDB donor countries, and other organizations.

In regards to the current geotourism initiative, ORP is exploring partnership opportunities to provide additional financial and non-financial resources to leverage the US$10 million contribution with public and private companies, including airlines and hotel chains. For more information on how to participate, please contact Miguel Aldaz at miguelaldaz@iadb.org.

The next NGS Geotourism Challenge competition, which will include the participation of the MIF, will be in January 2009. For more information, please visit http://www.changemakers.net/en-us/competition/geotourism or contact Santiago Soler at santiagos@iadb.org.

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