WASHINGTON (May 15, 2013)—Organizations from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, the four U.S. Gulf Coast states most affected by the 2010 DeepWater Horizon disaster, are joining with National Geographic Maps to highlight the world-class natural and cultural attractions of this southern crescent area. The project, U.S. Gulf Coast States: Explore the Southern Crescent Geotourism Initiative, seeks to contribute to the economic health of communities by promoting geotourism: tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place, including its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its inhabitants.
Community organizations, residents, tourism stakeholders and local businesses of the four Gulf Coast states will nominate sites for potential inclusion in an interactive geotourism website, a Geotourism MapGuide mobile application and a printed Geotourism MapGuide. The map will highlight sites and attractions that residents feel are unique to their home, such as local restaurants, wildlife and scenic trails, bed and breakfasts, historic attractions, fishing destinations, museums, artist galleries and other places that represent the region. The website will target a variety of growing travel niches, including adventure, nature, cultural heritage and agro-tourism, and will allow for local residents to select one-of-a-kind places integral to the distinctive character of the region. The website, mobile application and printed MapGuide will be available in December 2013.
Today at the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Center Bureau, Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and National Geographic’s Jim Dion officially announced the initiative and asked for public participation, opening the site nomination process. Public forums and presentations will be conducted in communities throughout the U.S. Gulf Coast states’ southern crescent region to encourage nominations and community involvement. Nominations will be accepted through July 15, 2013, at www.usgulfcoaststatesgeotourism.com.
“This partnership with National Geographic is an opportunity to showcase to the world the unique places and experiences offered in the Gulf Coast states,” said Dardenne. “Participation by Gulf States residents is pivotal — we want nominations from every part of the region, from our northern boundaries to our beaches and from big cities to small town main streets. Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi share a coast, but have diverse cultures not found anywhere else on Earth.”
“The National Geographic Maps Division is pleased to have the opportunity to spotlight this region and, in doing so, support and sustain it as one of the world’s most treasured natural places,” said Jim Dion, sustainable tourism program manager, National Geographic Maps. “The MapGuide will celebrate the four U.S. Gulf Coast states’ abundant scenic, cultural and historical attributes from the unique vantage point of those who live there.”
Beyond the sites and attractions nominated by local residents, the MapGuide development process calls for oversight by a regional committee. The U.S. Gulf States Southern Crescent Stewardship Council represents an assortment of geotourism perspectives, including community leadership, historic preservation, natural resources, public lands management, indigenous peoples, traditional and local arts, agriculture, tourism and local businesses. A primary task for the Stewardship Council will be to review and sort nominations prior to sending them to National Geographic, which will complete a final review of the sites for inclusion on the MapGuide.
The U.S. Gulf Coast States Geotourism Project is being advanced with support from the official offices of tourism in each of the four states, with additional financial support being provided by BP’s Gulf Tourism and Seafood Promotion Grant Funds and a grant written by the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to, and funded by, the U.S. Public Lands Highways Discretionary Program.
The National Geographic Society has worked with community-based alliances to develop similar Geotourism MapGuides and websites in other regions around the world. Geotourism MapGuide projects have been completed or are ongoing in the Central Cascades (Oregon, Washington), the Crown of the Continent (Alberta, British Columbia, Montana), Four Corners (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah), Greater Yellowstone (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming), Guatemala, Lakes to Locks Passage (New York, Quebec), Newfoundland, Portugal’s Douro Valley, Redwood Coast (California), Sierra Nevada (California, Nevada) and the Tennessee River Valley (Smoky Mountains through Knoxville and south to Chattanooga and north Georgia).
Founded in 1915 as the Map Department of the National Geographic Society, National Geographic Maps is responsible for illustrating the world around us through the art and science of mapmaking. Today, National Geographic Maps continues this mission by creating the world’s best wall maps, outdoor recreation maps, travel maps, atlases and globes that inspire people to care about and explore their world. For more information, visit natgeomaps.com.
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