We'd like to offer congratulations to Gerhard Buttner, the winner of Planeta.com's eighth annual Colibri Ecotourism Award. South African geographer Buttner won the honor for his superb work training guides and artisans in Mexico's Yucatan and Oaxaca.
Over the past few years Buttner has helped the community of San Antonio Cuajimoloyas develop its annual mushroom fair in August, which unearths the region's 100-plus mushroom varieties ("edible mushrooms without the magic trip," notes Planeta.com's Ron Mader). And earlier this year he became the debut English-language teacher for an Oaxaca education program for rural artisans in the town of Teotitlán del Valle.
Buttner's nominators trumpet his conscientious approach to connecting rural communities directly with visitors—a quality we fully appreciate. "Gerhard has recognized that in order to develop conscientious travel that connects Mexicans with foreign visitors, we Mexicans must have the communication tools to get the word out about local protocols, cultural history, and the environmental diversity of our country," wrote past Colibri Award winner Marlene Ehrenberg.
Mader says he chose Buttner for his exceptional "ability to see from multiple points of view. He's able to articulate what local weavers need and want and what travelers need and want. That depth of vision is crucial in developing ecotourism."
From all of us at IT, kudos! And for more on responsible travel innovators, check out IT's coverage of last year's Colibri Award winner, and peruse the recent winners of the first-ever Geotourism Challenge, sponsored by National Geographic's Center for Sustainable Destinations and Ashoka's Changemakers.
Photo: Gerhard Buttner, courtesy of Planeta.com