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Nicaraguan geotourism project competing in worldwide contest | Jan 28, 2011

Changemakers' website.
Cinthia Membreño

The Nicaraguan geoturism project Learning, Leadership, Adventure and Stewardship (ELLAS), developed by the American nonprofit organization Paso Pacifico, has until Wednesday, February 2nd, to get the most votes that would make it the winner of the Geotourism Challenge 2011. The competition is sponsored by the National Geographic Society, Ashoka Changemakers and the Inter-American Development Bank (BID) and it's focused on saving coastal and freshwater tourism destinations worldwide.

Liza González, Director of Paso Pacifico, informed that if the project wins a group of 250 women from the department of Rivas, who work in sustainable tourism of the area, will be benefited. "The project ELLAS was chosen as one of 12 finalists that are currently competing to be the winner of one of the first three spots, which will be defined through an online voting process," she explained.

According to Changemakers' website, international community that promotes the Geoturism Challenge 2010, ELLAS is competing against other countries like Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Belize, Madagascar, and others, to develop a project that will turn the costs of La Flor Wildlife Refuge (Rivas) into a geoturism destination. "The initiative will benefit three groups of women and a group of girls, giving them environmental education, promoting culture, planting trees and vegetables, among other actions," assured González.

The online voting process started on Wednesday, January 19th and will end on February 2nd. The first three places will get US$5,000 each in order to develop projects that will give solutions related to environmental protection and to strengthen the cultural heritage, and ways of life, of local residents from coasts and islands.

The director of Paso Pacifico also explained that this is the first time that the organization participates in a competition like this one. "Changemakers organizers contests every year with different topics. This time, the competition is about preserving coastal destinations," she informed. In addition, Liza explained that Nicaragua is not only being represented by Paso Pacifico but also by Opportunity International, which developed a project to promote ecotourism and agriculture of the communities that surround the Apoyo Lagoon.

To support the ELLAS project and Opportunity International's initiative, voters should go to the following link. One can vote for as many projects as desired, but votes must be submitted before February 2nd, and then be confirmed through e-mail accounts, a requirement established by organizers.