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5 Mar, 2012

Award for Sicilian Agency Which Backs Tourism Players Who Defy the Mafia


Berlin (March 5) — A Sicilian travel agency that supports local tourism products and services who refuse to pay protection money to the local mafia is one of the three winners of the international TO DO! Contest for Socially Responsible Tourism to be conferred at this year’s ITB Berlin. The other two are an ecolodge in Bolivia and a wilderness lodge in Mozambique.

According to the official release yesterday, “All three award winners use their tourism activities as a tool – for the right to self-determination, the right to dignity and the right to a better future.” The winners will be awarded on 9 March 2012, by the Studienkreis für Tourismus und Entwicklung e.V. The awards have been conferred annually since 1995.  The following is the text of the awards press release announcing the awards.

The three equal winners of the TO DO! awards: are SAN MIGUEL DEL BALA ECO-LODGE in Bolivia, the Sicilian travel agency ADDIOPIZZO TRAVEL in Italy and the regional development project MANDA WILDERNESS PROJECT – NKWICHI LODGE in Mozambique. Prize money for this year’s TO DO! winners is  provided by the Swiss Foundation for Solidarity in Tourism (SST) and by the ERV (European Travel Insurance Corp.).

The TO DO! Contest Socially Responsible Tourism is supported by: ITB Berlin as well as BMZ – German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, ERV – European Travel Insurance Corp., EED – German Church Development Service/Tourism Watch, SST – Swiss Foundation for Solidarity in Tourism, Studiosus Reisen München GmbH and TUI Deutschland GmbH.

Details of this year’s prize-winners


Describing what ADDIOPIZZO TRAVEL does as “overcoming obstacles” would mean playing it down: It is nothing less than education and reflection on the Mafia structures in Sicily – for example during guided tours with student and tourist groups. As a tourism branch of the ADDIOPIZZO movement (“Goodbye pizzo” [protection money]), founded in 2004, ADDIOPIZZO TRAVEL works to support those restaurants, hotels, lodges and agricultural businesses that have joined ADDIOPIZZO and refuse to pay the Mafia (in Palermo it is the Cosa Nostra) for “protection”. For, according to the slogan of a poster campaign conducted in 2004 which led to the foundation of ADDIOPIZZO, “A population that pays pizzo is a population without dignity.”

In the meantime, about 10,000 citizens of Palermo had the courage to declare publicly that they prefer to buy from shops that don’t pay for protection. About 700 (certified) businesses, workmen and craftsmen, restaurants and hotels use the ADDIOPIZZO label to show that they are taking a stand. In their own city map, ADDIOPIZZO TRAVEL show Italian and foreign visitors to Palermo how to find these businesses. Visitors who would like to do so may book guided tours and excursion programmes in Palermo and surroundings with ADDIOPIZZO TRAVEL for a day or more.

This includes – upon request – a visit to the famous-infamous Cosa Nostra place Corleone. Corleone now has a documentation centre on “Mafia – Antimafia”. Besides, the ADDIOPIZZO TRAVEL network also includes agro-tourism enterprises operating on farms confiscated from convicted Mafiosi. They not only offer accommodation, but also excellent food.

Website: www.addiopizzotravel.it


For the indigenous Tacana community in Bolivia, the Bolivian government’s decision to declare a large part of their territory “Madidi National Park” (implemented in 1995) led to the sudden termination of their traditional rights. While earlier they were allowed to hunt and use the land for agriculture, all that remained was the possibility to fish in the rivers for their own consumption. The protected area, which is said to be biologically extremely diverse, stretches from the tropical lowlands in the Amazon basin up to the Cordillera Real on the border to Peru.

However, after their futile protest against the national park, the indigenous families of San Miguel del Bala, living on the park’s borders, did not admit defeat, but transformed a situation that was disadvantageous for them into the contrary. The majority of the people affected jointly formed a cooperative and – after detailed consultation and with the help of various development and aid organisations – opened SAN MIGUEL DEL BALA ECO-LODGE in 2006.

The lodge has its own guides and long boats to go into the jungle. Guided excursions are also offered. In this way, the lucrative tourism business at the national park does not bypass the local people, but happens with their involvement, within a structure chosen and set up by them. The income from tourism also helps to buy teaching materials for the school and to finance the computer. The cooperative also takes care of the transport and treatment of community members who fall ill.

Website: www.sanmigueldelbala.com


In the North of Mozambique, on the Eastern shore of Lake Malawi, there are 16 villages with about 20,000 inhabitants which are all directly or indirectly part of a small, regional development concept called MANDA WILDERNESS PROJECT – NKWICHI LODGE. It is a tourism, environmental and developmental concept based on three pillars and can serve as a model. MANDA WILDERNESS stands for the 120,000 ha Manda Wilderness Community Conservation Area which is been declared a protected area by the local people themselves, in cooperation with the Mozambican Government (first pillar). The communities can use and manage it on their own, as they possess secure land title deeds. In order to do so, they founded a communal entity called Umoji (Umoji means: “We speak as one“).

NKWICHI LODGE, in turn, stands for the generation of income, jobs, and training (second pillar). Today, the eco-lodge built in 2003 after careful consultation with representatives of the surrounding villages is the only company far and wide. It helps 52 now well-trained local people to earn a regular income. The lodge is situated at one of the most beautiful parts of the beach. Here, the water of Lake Malawi is crystal clear. The lodge is surrounded by a forest that is rich in flora and fauna. It is just like the luxurious safari lodges in East and South Africa, and yet it is not regarded as a foreign object. Just the opposite: for most of the local people NKWICHI LODGE symbolises the promise of a better future. Not only because the management of the lodge decided to rely on the region (staff, sourcing of materials, construction work).

What also plays a decisive role is the MANDA WILDERNESS COMMUNITY TRUST – the third pillar – that works here to build infrastructure, e.g. schools, small clinics, and a farm for teaching and demonstration purposes. The foundation registered in London and financed by donations is the non-profit branch of the project, set up by the British founders of NKWICHI LODGE whose main job is with international development organisations. Their original motivation: They wanted to help the people living in the North of Mozambique who were affected by three decades of colonial and civil war (1964-1992) to build a better future. This has been achieved.

Website: http://mandawilderness.org/