Vienna, 23 November 2012
Naturefriends International received the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism for their regional development initiative “Landscape of the Year” within the framework of the UNWTO Global Summit on City Tourism in Istanbul on 15 November.
Photo: Susanne Kraus Winkler (LOISIUM, Austria), Taleb Rifai (UNWTO), Anita Pinter (NFI) Christian Baumgartner (NFI), Pauline Sheldon (University Hawaii)
The prestigious UNWTO Ulysses Prize was awarded to the Naturefriends initiative Landscape of the Year for its outstanding contribution to a transboundary regional sustainable tourism development since 1989. “Today, the initiative has grown to become an important incentive for regions across Europe to protect their landscape and biodiversity through sustainable projects such as tourism“, the jury committee explained upon the selection of the Landscape of the Year project for the category non-governmental organisations.
The UNWTO Ulysses Awards reward initiatives and projects, undertaken by public tourism institutions, tourism enterprises and non-profit institutions that have made a significant contribution to the advancement of tourism through innovation, in line with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. "Innovations which influence the tourism development in a sustainable way will mark the path into a successful future for many regions of the world“, said the Secretary General of UNWTO, Dr. Taleb Rifai, in his welcoming speech.
“Every two years, a European cross-border region of high ecological value is designated ‘Landscape of the Year’ by Naturefriends. The general objective of the initiative is to put the focus of public interest on the landscape concerned as well as to advance and support sustainable development. Thereby, the priority is fostering sustainable and ecological tourism in the respective region. The Ulysses
Award is a great honour for Naturefriends' commitment in 13 Landscape of the Years, in which 13 countries and about 5000 volunteers were involved and approximately 200 events and activities were organised over the past 23 years”, says Christian Baumgartner, Secretary General of Naturefriends International.
Exemplarily, the “Landscape of the Year 1990 Lake Neusiedl” (AT/HU) contributed to the foundation of the cross-border national park Neusiedler See – Seewinkel; the "Landscape of the Year 1993/94 Oder Delta" (DE/PL) supported the establishment of the Foundation Oder Delta – Association for Sustainable Development; and within the framework of the "Landscape of the Year 2007-2009 Danube Delta" (RO/UA), trainings for nature guides as well as for ecological and economical reed management in the region were implemented.
As Professor Pauline Sheldon, Dean of the University of Hawaii and this year's laudator stated at the award ceremony: "The UNWTO Ulysses Award is a kind of Nobel Prize of Tourism". With this in mind, Naturefriends will also endeavour an ongoing border-crossing sustainable regional development in future and within the next Landscape of the Year 2013/14 Upper Rhine, where three countries will work together in the triangle border of Germany, France and Switzerland.
Dr. Christian Baumgartner, Secretary General, and Anita Pinter, project coordinator from Naturefriends International – the international umbrella organisation of the Naturefriends movement with about 500,000 members worldwide – were very happy to receive this award for Naturefriends’ commitment throughout regions in Europe.