Home News National Geographic to launch Geotourism project

National Geographic to launch Geotourism project

WASHINGTON, USA, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ — National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations has joined organisations in Washington and Oregon to publicise the world-class natural and cultural attractions of the Central Cascades. As part of this, a community-based nomination process will be used to create a National Geographic “Geotourism MapGuide” for the region. The “Central Cascades” area designated for the map stretches from Mount Rainier National Park to Crater Lake National Park, including communities plus private and public lands in both states. The printed Central Cascades MapGuide will be available in September 2009. A parallel interactive Web site is also being developed.

The pilot project seeks to contribute to the economic health of communities by promoting geotourism: tourism that sustains and enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents.

“From Mount Rainier to Crater Lake, the spectacular beauty and recreational opportunities of the Central Cascades are unique,” said James Dion, associate director of the Center for Sustainable Destinations. “National Geographic is pleased to have the opportunity to spotlight this region and, in doing so, support and sustain it as one of the treasured natural places on the globe.”

Residents and visitors have been invited to nominate for inclusion in the MapGuide the landmarks, attractions, activities, events and local businesses that define the region’s character and distinctive appeal. Public forums and presentations will be conducted in communities throughout the Central Cascades to encourage nominations and community involvement.

“Because those who live and recreate here know it best, participation by local residents is critical to the project’s success,” said Todd Davidson, CEO of Travel Oregon. “Our goal is to get nominations from across the region that identify the things people love best about the Cascades; those ‘gotta see, gotta go’ places we are most enthusiastic to share with visitors.”

Additional perceived benefits of the MapGuide include calling forth the themes that are important to conserving the gems of the region; laying the groundwork for future collaboration of individual, business, community and conservation interests; building pride in the region and its communities; and inspiring stewardship of the region.

The National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations is providing overall project direction under Jonathan Tourtellot, the center’s director. National Geographic Maps, led by chief cartographer Allen Carroll, will handle cartography.

Coordinating this geotourism initiative in Washington and Oregon are the Central Cascades Project Advisory Committee, a coalition of Travel Oregon, Washington State Tourism, Sustainable Travel International, Rural Development Initiatives, Sustainable Northwest, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Significant funding and regional leadership are being provided by Travel Oregon, Washington State Tourism, USDA Forest Service/National Forest Scenic Byways Transportation and Tourism Planning, USDI Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Cultural Trust, Clackamas County Tourism Development Council, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Central Oregon Visitors Association, Convention and Visitors Association of Lane County Oregon, Portland Metro and the Columbia River Gorge Visitors Association.

The National Geographic Society has worked with community-based alliances to develop similar “Geotourism MapGuides” in several other regions around the world. MapGuide projects have been completed or are ongoing in Greater Yellowstone, the Crown of the Continent (Alberta, British Columbia, Montana), Guatemala, Sonoran Desert (Arizona, Sonora), Honduras, Peru, Baja California, Vermont and Appalachia.