A sprawling new geotourism project is wrapping up its initial request for map-guide nominations in four American states bordering the Gulf of Mexico. Organizations in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi have joined in the U.S. Gulf Coast States Geotourism project. Years in preparation, the project is funded partly by BP in compensation for damage to tourism in the wake of the 2010 DeepWater Horizon oil well blow-out. For a full description see the NatGeo press release.
A key goal of National Geographic Geotourism MapGuide projects is citizen participation. Local media have been spreading the word, for example: in Louisiana, including New Orleans, in Mississippi, in Alabama, both coastal and inland. (Note: these media links may expire.) James Dion of National Geographic Maps and Solimar International have been managing the project from the Geographic side. A regional committee, the U.S. Gulf States Southern Crescent Stewardship Council, must now complete review of the nominations in preparation for the official roll-out of the Geotourism MapGuide later in the year.
With four states participating, this Geotourism MapGuide project obviously comprises many destinations. One can hope that the process will deepen local appreciation for their own distinctive natural and cultural heritage, raise perceived value of those assets, and help to build a more sustainable approach to tourism and destination stewardship, especially along the coast.