LETTER TO THE EDITOR: What is Geotourism?
As a local resident and the project manager of the Sierra Nevada Geotourism project, I would like to clarify the definition of geotourism, which has been misprinted in the side bar for the three-part series on the Tahoe Prosperity Plan. Geotourism is tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place – its environment, culture, asthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents. Geotourism encompasses a range of niches including adventure- and nature-based travel, eco- and agri-tourism, cultural and heritage travel. Geotourism also takes a principle from its ecotourism cousin – that tourism revenue should promote conservation – and extends it to culture and history as well, that is, all distinctive assets of a place.The term “geotourism”was coined by National Geographic, and supported by a study by the Travel Industry Association of America that found that over 50 million travelers want an authentic travel experience.
National Geographic selected the Sierra Nevada as one of nine geotourism destinations in the United States. The Sierra Nevada Geotourism Project seeks to celebrate the Sierra Nevada as a world-class destination, while contributing to its economic health and promoting long-term stewardship of the region. Project partners and residents of the Sierra Nevada are working together to create a map that features geotouristic assets and attracts as well as encourages sustainable tourism. Geotouristic assets are authentic and distinctive to the region. Examples include local restaurants and shops, historic hotels, museums, local artists, hiking trails, festivals and events, volunteer and recreational opportunities. This project also moves beyond the map by working to build an understanding and skill set of sustainable tourism, how both the environment and the economy can thrive, and how both the residents and the visitors can benefit from tourism. The project management partners are the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Sierra Business Council, and the National Geographic Society. We are working with a collaboration of over 50 project supporters, and we encourage community collaboration and participation in the project. Visit http://www.SierraNevadaGeotourism.org to learn more.
Program Director, Sierra Business Council
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