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The FITURNEXT Observatory rewards three initiatives for their contribution to local economic development through tourism
The initiatives “Apadrina un Olivo(“Sponsor an Olive Tree”); “Starlight Foundation” and “Soap for Hope”, winners of the FITURNEXT 2020 challenge, dedicated to how tourism can contribute to local economic development.

The rewards will be given by The FITURNEXT Observatory on the 22 January, within Fitur 2020.

Having reviewed over 250 innovative projects carried out all over the world, the FITURNEXT Observatory, the FITUR platform sponsored by BANKIA, the aim of which is to promote good practises in tourism in terms of sustainability, highlights the three winning initiatives chosen this year, which focused on how tourism can contribute to local economic development.

Beyond having positive effects for communities, local economic development can generate numerous benefits for destinations and tourism sector companies. Firstly, it allows areas that are less developed to open to tourism, so that new destinations are created and others are promoted. Additionally, the values of these sustainable tourism initiatives that support local entrepreneurs or generate employment for at-risk groups are shared today by a large number of clients.

Rewarded replicable initiatives - FiturNext 2020 Challenge
The selection and analysis were based on a model developed by the Observatory that shows the main characteristics that define the replication potential of an initiative, and therefore its ease in being adopted by part of the industry. This potential was measured with the replicability barometer that looks at two dimensions: the degree of feasibility of the initiative and its level of maturity. Based on this, the following were chosen from among the 12 finalists as the winners:

1)Apadrina un Olivo (Sponsor an Olive Tree) is an initiative that recovers, preserves and promotes the centenary olive grove that was abandoned in Oliete (Teruel, Spain) while at the same time it generates a sustainable economy with social inclusion in the town. Its promoters have created a sponsorship model for sponsors to christen their tree, follow its condition and care, receive two litres of oil from their olive tree every year and visit it. The initiative has already achieved 4,000 sponsors, has recovered 8,300 olive trees and has provided jobs for 10% of the population of the area. 75% of the sponsors have visited the town, which has generated opportunities for the already-existing or fledgling tourism companies.

2)Starlight Foundation is an organisation that provides a certification system for destinations, accommodation and natural reserves to carry out astro-tourism, especially in rural areas, with scarce light contamination and that can take advantage of the tourism activity to slow down depopulation. On average, the growth experienced by the destination is usually between 100% and 400%.

3)Soap for Hope is a project that uses the soap remains from hotels around the world so that women who are in at-risk situations can sell it. Additionally, thousands of children who do not have access to basic hygienic conditions also benefit from this donations program. Since the project began, over 4,000 women have benefited from manufacturing, distributing and selling the new soap.
Summary of the 9 finalist initiatives

The following projects were also finalists in this first challenge by FITUR NEXT: Vías Verdes seeks to promote sustainable rural development through tourism and the use of abandoned railway infrastructures; Local Alike trains residents in tourism program management and entrepreneurial knowledge to co-create routes and experiences for visitors; PichaEats works with refugee families from Malaysia to provide buffet, catering and delivery services and develops an open-kitchen program where guests eat at the chef’s house; Fundación Yetapá helps communities promote their natural and cultural heritage to build a tourism destination, seeking to show a local development model where tourism is the tool that activates the economy; Taste of Fethiye helps producers supply food to local hotels, by mediating between both sides; NotOnMap proposes “model towns”, these are new tourism destinations in rural areas of the country where the lifestyle and the traditions of the local population are showcased; Totonal manages a supply chain with rural cooperatives and small tourism companies in Mexico, joining offer and demand; Plan Wallata is committed to the development of the Ollantaytambo region and the capabilities of its inhabitants to achieve by 2021 for the region to become a competitive destination and a model of sustainability for tourism activity, and lastly, Favela Tour offers guided tours through the largest favelas in Rio de Janeiro, with the aim to offer a new understanding of the various aspects of Brazilian society.
During Fitur, the FiturNext Observatory will offer an extensive programme of talks and presentations with important industry professionals; the awards will be presented to the winning initiatives, and the report How can tourism contribute to local economic development? will be presented, along with the FiturNext 2021 challenge.
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