Geotourism: Tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and well-being of its residents.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 4, 2011)—Local community leaders, regional and state tourism managers and Geotourism site nominees will meet at the East Tennessee History Center on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011, at 10 a.m., to launch the Tennessee River Valley online Geotourism MapGuide with National Geographic Maps. The landmark project has taken two years to plan and execute and is a historically significant asset for everyone who visits or lives in the Valley. The new interactive online Geotourism MapGuide highlights a region “Where Rivers and Mountains Meet,” from the Smoky Mountains through Knoxville and south to Chattanooga and north Georgia. The MapGuide is designed to showcase to national and international audiences the natural, cultural and historic attractions that define the East Tennessee River Valley region.
From Lake Loudon boating to Lookout Mountain hang gliding to Lottie’s Diner, Tennesseans sent in more than 600 nominations of their favorite points of interest; historic, cultural and natural landmarks; events; artisans; and attractions, which capture the region’s unique character and beauty. Those nominations now form the basis for travel planning, site fact sheets, contact information, e-newsletters and opportunities for marketing the region to the world. The MapGuide can be accessed at www.TennesseeRiverValleyGeotourism.org. Tennesseans can continue to nominate new sites, events and special places to the MapGuide, which will be a dynamic and constantly changing interactive site.
“This Geotourism MapGuide is a showcase of what makes the East Tennessee River Valley so critically and beautifully significant,” said James Dion, sustainable tourism program manager, National Geographic Maps. “More than ever, this project underscores the importance of conserving the region’s tremendous scenic and historical assets for future generations.”
The Tennessee River Valley MapGuide:
- Is one of only 17 Geotourism MapGuides worldwide to date.
- Is the first Geotourism MapGuide focused entirely on a region of the southern United States.
- Is the only U.S. Geotourism MapGuide celebrating a major river valley.
- Showcases 600 “favorite” places and events nominated by Tennesseans.
- Is a resource designed to improve local, rural economic development.
- Will grow with the ongoing addition of hundreds of more sites and events over the years.
- Provides access to a niche national market of 65 million “geotourists.”
- Highlights the resources of 21 Tennessee counties.
- Provides a long-term resource for promoting Tennessee to the nation and the world.
National Geographic’s acclaimed mapmaking and sustainable tourism expertise helped produce the Geotourism project with the Southeast Watershed Forum, regional communities and organizations and state and federal agencies. Funding for the project was provided by Tennessee Valley Authority, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, Tennessee Department of Transportation, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau, Gatlinburg Department of Tourism and Convention Center, Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation and World Wildlife Fund Southeastern Rivers and Streams Program.
“Tennessee Valley Authority sees this project as a great opportunity to work closely with other groups in the region to promote responsible tourism,” said Bruce Schofield, vice president of Tennessee Valley Authority’s Land and Water Management.
“We are excited to be offering the first U.S. Geotourism MapGuide celebrating a major river valley,” said MapGuide coordinator Christine Olsenius of the Southeast Watershed Forum, a Tennessee-based nonprofit organization that has been helping communities with quality growth and sustainable development for more than 12 years.
“This Geotourism MapGuide will bring national and international attention to one of Tennessee’s most beautiful areas, encouraging the traveling public to visit our state and discover firsthand Tennessee’s remarkable natural resources, history, culture and, of course, our people,” said Susan Whitaker, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
The East Tennessee History Center, which is hosting the launch event, is one example of the high-quality venues on the MapGuide that celebrate the region’s sense of place and offer a glimpse into the people and events that shaped the state we see today. The launch event will feature short presentations, a tour of the online site, music, refreshments and a complimentary self-guided tour of the History Center.
The National Geographic Society has worked with community-based alliances to develop similar Geotourism MapGuides in other regions around the world. Online Geotourism MapGuide projects have been completed or are ongoing in the Central Cascades (Oregon, Washington), the Crown of the Continent (Alberta, British Columbia, Montana), Greater Yellowstone (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming), Sierra Nevada (California, Nevada), Four Corners (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah), California’s Redwood Coast, Lakes to Locks Passage (New York, Quebec), Guatemala, Newfoundland and Portugal’s Douro Valley.
National Geographic Maps was established as a division of the National Geographic Society in 1915 and has been producing maps for National Geographic magazine and other Society groups for more than 95 years. National Geographic Maps publishes a vast collection of wall maps, travel maps, outdoor recreation maps, atlases and globes. For more information on National Geographic Maps, visit www.natgeomaps.com.