TYPES OF GEOTOURISM PROGRAMS
Destination-stewardship leaders have taken a variety of ways to establish geotourism as a preferred strategy. The goal is to help develop a geotourism mindset—a constituency of stewardship—with corresponding protection of natural and cultural distinctiveness, economic benefits, and improved quality of life. Some methods are more successful than others; some work better in one place or country than in another.
In most cases, the best first step to convene a provisional Geotourism Stewardship Council (pdf). This helps bring people representing all the distinctive attributes of the place under one umbrella. Then a mutually supported citizen-participation catalytic project helps get the ball rolling.
SAMPLE GEOTOURISM PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS
◊ Read blog posts on geotourism initiatives.
Geotourism map-guides are the oldest projects used to promote the geotourism approach. Mobile apps can extend the information to smartphones, preferably with two-way functionality that solicits guided visitor feedback.
Often conducted as a cobranded product with National Geographic Maps, map-guides require citizen participation and formation of a geotourism stewardship council—an ad hoc committee that brings all stakeholders to the table. (See About Geotourism Stewardship Councils PDF). Teaming up with National Geographic is not necessary; a university or neutral nonprofit organization can play the same role. Although the Geographic name commands a premium price, it does help get people to the table, generate media attention, and spur excitement about the project. See Geotourism MapGuides for more information and a complete list of MapGuide websites.
Geotourism Magazine This social franchise model from Montreal offers a way to for tourism to combine community benefit with civic participation and geotourism marketing. See Geotourism Magazine.
A geotourism-themed festival. Example: Lake Tahoe’s multisite Geotourism Expo, held annually, seeks to restore character of place to a recreational destination long dominated by generic resorts. For more on the Tahoe geotourism movement, see Comstock magazine.
Development of a geotourism visitor center. Example: Teton Geotourism Center in Driggs, Idaho provides information about the Greater Yellowstone area. The John Muir Geotourism Center does the same for the Sierra Nevada.
Geotourism storytelling project. Example: Okanagan Geotourism Initiative, B.C., Canada, solicits stories about the region to enrich visitor (and resident) appreciation for the heratge of the area.
Geotourism education. Examples: The Alaska Geotourism Collaborative focuses on community projects and education for interested Alaskans. In Bogor, Java, Indonesia, the GeoWisata (“Geotourism” in Indonesian) project trains girls in geotourism-related information technology skills.
Official endorsement. Governmental or quasi-governmental endorsement of the geotourism approach or public signature of the Geotourism Charter. Examples: Cook Islands, South Pacific, and the OAS San Pedro Sula Declaration (pdf), whereby the Organization of American States tourism ministers declared geotourism the preferred model for Western Hemisphere countries. The challenge is ensure the establishment of substantive programs to back up these admirable statements of intent.
Reinvention and rebranding of the destination. Example: Fogo Island, Newfoundland is using the geotourism approach to build itself into an artist retreat and cultural center by adapting traditional materials, foods, and design distinctive to the place.
Official declaration of a protected or special district. Many places are seeking official protected status for their geotourism assets. Such protection may win global recognition by inscription on the UNESCO-maintained World Heritage List. Example: Some civic leaders in Borrego Springs, California, USA are exploring the long path to inscription for the surrounding Anza-Borrego Desert State Park as part of their new geotourism initiative.
Funding John McKenzie’s Geotourism Development Foundation seeks to partner with local tour operators to help preserve culture, protect the environment, and alleviate poverty.
Other geotourism projects, initiatives, and related activities
Indonesia: Java Nira (community focus)
Mongolia: rural geotourism
Rhode Island, USA
Hurtigruten coastal voyager ships, Norway
Bocas del Toro, et al.
Northern Mozambique (completed)
Brasov, Romania (completed)
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