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IDB to co-host Geotourism Summit along with National Geographic and Ashoka
MIF, the investment fund of the Inter-American Development Bank, in partnership with National Geographic Society (NGS) and Ashoka’s Changemakers, will host an event to promote new business ideas for tourism in Latin America and the Caribbean with a focus on public-private partnerships.

The Geotourism Summit 2010 will take place at National Geographic headquarters in Washington D.C., on February 2 and 3. The second day of the summit, entitled “Partners for Sustainable Tourism,” will be hosted by MIF.

The summit will bring together experts in sustainable tourism along with representatives from private companies and institutions, including Google, Microsoft, MTV, Rainforest Alliance, the World Bank, UN Foundation, UNESCO and AHCIET (Ibero-American Association of Research Centers and Telecommunications Companies), among others.

Participants will express their views in roundtable discussions on five strategic areas related to the development of tourism in the region and management of sustainable tourism destinations. The five areas for discussion are access to finance; environment, energy and climate change; information and communication technologies (ICT); media and market access; inclusion, youth, gender and training; and community destination management and planning.

Focusing on partners for sustainable tourism, participants in the second day will look to harmonize local needs, business opportunities and sustainability in the region’s tourism industry. “By focusing on integrating partners’ products and services, small businesses in the tourism sector can improve their competitiveness and capacity to sustainably plan and manage tourist destinations,” says Santiago Soler, coordinator of MIF’s Sustainable Tourism project cluster.

The roundtable discussions will give participants and potential partners the opportunity to share ideas, find synergies between their companies and MIF projects, and propose new solutions for the industry’s growth.

MIF joined forces last year with National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations (CSD) and Ashoka’s Changemakers, and launched the 2009 Geotourism Challenge, a competition for innovative projects in sustainable tourism. The Geotourism Challenge received 327 ideas from 24 countries throughout the region, and seven of them were selected based on their innovation and institutional capacity. The seven winning proposals are currently under design and will be considered for financing this year.

The winning proposals are the following:

About the IDB/MIF

In 2010, the IDB and its investment fund MIF will invest close to $350 million in sustainable tourism-related projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The IDB offers financing to develop tourist infrastructure and improve tourist products, as well as providing assistance to governments in the development of tourism policies. MIF provides grants, loans and equity investments for innovative projects that promote economic growth and poverty reduction through private sector development, focusing primarily on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

The MIF’s sustainable tourism cluster was created in 2004 to generate innovative projects and promote synergies among key players in the industry. To date, MIF’s sustainable tourism cluster has invested $47 million in 27 projects throughout the region, in collaboration with over 6,500 small businesses.