San Miguel del Bala wins "TO DO!" Award!

Written by  Karen Megarbane

San Miguel del Bala to be presented "TO DO!" Award at ITB

We are so pleased to announce that San Miguel de Bala, one of our Collection members, has been awarded the 2011 TO DO! Socially Responsible Tourism Award!

The beautiful jungle Ecolodges of San Miguel del Bala were created by the local indigenous community as a means of celebrating the native Tacana culture and the amazing biodiversity of the Bolivian Amazon. SMdB’s success story is a true testament to the benefits sustainable tourism can offer local communities.

Today on March 9th’s  at the International Tourism Exchange in Berlin San Miguel, along with Addiopizzo Travel of Sicily and the Nkwichi Lodge in Mozambique, will be honored for all of the ways in which it has helped to empower the local community.   

What are the TO DO! Awards?

The "TO DO! Contest for Socially Responsible Tourism” is organized by Studienkreis für Tourismus und Entwicklung (Institute for Tourism and Development) and invites entries from all over the world. The award was created in 1995 in response to newfound global focus on conservation and ecotourism initiatives. Although the organization welcomed the mainstream change in tourism policy, it sought to take things a step further by encouraging tourism enterprises to also account for the needs of local populations. It also aimed to push local populations to participate in sustainable tourism practices on a broad scale.

San Miguel an Embodiment of Social Responsible Tourism

San Miguel del Bala’s story exhibits all of the goals and practices commemorated by the TO DO! Awards. The formation of Madidi National Park in 1995 was a large win for environmental conservationists, but a blow to local inhabitants of the area. Many of the Tacana, including the residents of San Miguel del Bala, felt that the Bolivian government was infringing on their ancient lands and placing their ancient hunting and agricultural traditions in jeopardy. Instead of combating the governmental policies, San Miguel created a lodge intended to celebrate the Tacana culture as well as the rich Amazonian ecosystem. Today, San Miguel del Bala and the 35 families that own the lodge are directly benefiting from lodge employment and the increased health and educational benefits it has brought them.

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