Let National Geographic help you

Published 12:08 am Friday, July 5, 2013

Free tourism marketing! Affiliation with the internationally recognized National Geographic brand! These may seem too good to be true, but are currently available in this area through a unique opportunity for local tourism organizations and businesses in states along the Gulf Coast.

With up-front funding from the BP oil-spill settlement, a U.S. Gulf States Geotourism Program is currently under development for all of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. Owners of tourism organizations or businesses should self-nominate themselves for potential inclusion before July 15, if possible at www.usgulfcoaststatesgeotourism.com. For more information on the nomination process, call Darienne Mobley at 225-408-4031 or email her at darienne@tourismbuilders.com.

This new division of the National Geographic Society has begun creating geotourism websites, mobile apps and print MapGuides that focus on a particular region’s tourism that “sustains or enhances the geographic character of a place, its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage,and the well-being of its residents.”

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National Geographic has already created similar geotourism projects for several other regions around the United States and the world, including Greater Yellowstone, the Central Cascades, the Crown of the Continent, Guatemala, Montreal, the Sonoran Desert, Romania, Norway, Honduras, Peru, Baja California, Rhode Island, Vermont, Newfoundland and Appalachia. See these at: www.travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/sustainable/programs_for_places.html.

A good test for potential inclusion on the MapGuide is whether the spot, attraction, business, activity or experience is distinctive to our town, area or region, and whether it is authentic to the U.S. Gulf States. Examples would include:

Remarkable natural areas and geologic features such as creeks, lakes, bluffs, beaches, wetlands, bayous and forests, rivers or wetlands; Distinctive wildlife habitats and notable species of birds, mammals, flowers or trees;

Places featuring local cuisine or agricultural products: farmers markets, shops, and restaurants, agri-tourism sites; Events, ceremonies, festivals that highlight the community’s heritage, food, music and traditions;

Cultural experiences: heritage sites, museums, theaters, music, literature and performing arts; Artist studios and galleries, craft workshops, shops featuring handmade items from the region;

Outdoor experiences such as rafting, hiking, hunting, horseback riding, deep sea fishing; Historic places such as trails, plantation homes, civil war sites, civil rights sites, distinctive local architecture or native American sites; Scenic routes including hiking trails, bike routes, birding trails and scenic byways;

Community stewardship projects, land trusts, conservation or restoration initiatives; Locally owned and family businesses like a café, pub, craft shop, winery, or unique lodging; Local artist or artisan, storyteller, outdoor guide or historian; Legends, stories or other unique aspects of the region.

The City of Natchez will host a workshop on the nomination process at 4 p.m. Monday in the Natchez Visitor Center theater. All are welcome. For more information call Sally Durkin at 601-446-6345, or email sdurkin@visitnatchez.org.


Kathleen Jenkins is superintendent of the Natchez National Historical Park