The spring of 1995 is witnessing a sort of turning point in the tourism debates. Finally, criticism about the consequences of world-wide, indiscriminate development of tourist destinations seems to have reached the tourism industry, ushering in a great deal of changes. However, only in relation to the environment issue! Environmental specialists were employed in quite a number of firms, there were environment contests, some travel agents even agreed to eco-audits, and efforts to obtain seals of ecological quality displayed near to inflationary tendencies.
Yet, the original approach of the critics, namely to shape tourism along socially responsible lines in the first place - for and with the people, for and in their own world - this idea was in danger of being pushed out into the cold by this focus on the environment. But: Those who wish to act in a socially responsible manner will also necessarily act in an environment-friendly manner, because they would otherwise not think in terms of social responsibility. Those who think in socially responsible terms will at the same time have to make allowances for the right to decision-making and participation; the right to independent development and the right to refuse or reject - for example the western lifestyle.
Because all this seemed to get lost through the one-sided emphasis on ecology the Studienkreis für Tourismus und Entwicklung (Institute for Tourism and Development) decided in 1995 to organise the "TO DO! Contest for Socially Responsible Tourism" and to invite entries from all over the world. For: the future of tourism will depend not least on whether it develops a socially responsible profile in the destination areas.
The contest will only accept entries for projects and measures whose planning and implementation involves the different interests and needs of the local population through participation on a broad scale (e.g. through information, opinion poll, discussion, in working out ideas and in decision-making).
In addition the following aspects should also be considered:
Projects and measures entered for the contest must be in line with the principles of environmental compatibility. In addition, evidence of economic and institutional measures/mechanisms guaranteeing the sustainability of the project/measures must be provided.
The criteria are subject to a continuous qualifying process. They are regularly scrutinised by the short-listing jury and the jury as to their viability.
The award is given in March of each year on the occasion of the International Tourism Exchange in Berlin. The prize-winning projects are thus made known to a broad public.