'Geotourism' helps to enhance a location


Share
Posted Online: Feb. 09, 2013, 7:00 pm
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story
Dear EarthTalk: I've heard of Eco-Tourism, but what on Earth is "Geo-Tourism? -- SALLY KARDAMAN, SUMTER, S.C.

A: "Geotourism" describes tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a given place, including its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of local residents.

The idea is that tourism can be a positive force that benefits travelers and local environments and economies.

National Geographic senior editor Jonathan Tourtellot coined the term in 1997 to distinguish it from "ecotourism" or "sustainable tourism," both which more narrowly focus on travel's ecological impacts.

In addition to a "do-no-harm" ethic, geotourism seeks to enhance prospects for sustainable development based on the specific character of a given place rather than on standardized international branding, generic architecture and food, etc.

In other words, a geotourism tour won't involve sending you to an exotic locale only to put you up at a Hilton or Marriot and give you discount coupons to Taco Bell and McDonald's.

"Today, the world's great destinations are under assault as visitor numbers rise exponentially every year," reports the nonprofit National Geographic Society, publisher of National Geographic.

"The result is damage to the sites, overcrowding and erosion of the local culture and environment." The Society hopes to reverse these trends with geotourism.

Its Center for Sustainable Destinations helps local communities, governments, tourism bureaus and private businesses enhance and sustain their distinct character while harnessing the power of tourism for positive impact.

"Residents discover their own heritage by learning that things they take for granted may be interesting to outsiders," reports CSD. "As local people develop pride and skill in showing off their locale, tourists get more out of their visit."

The Society's "Geotourism Charter" lists 13 principles that qualifying sites must adhere to in order to earn a geotourism distinction. The main current running through the Charter is appreciation for the distinctive aspects of a given place and culture, and an eagerness to showcase them to curious and supportive visitors.

The term geotourism is fairly new, but several places have offered "geotourism"-worthy travel for years. Costa Rica's Rio Tropicales Lodge takes visitors whitewater rafting, horseback riding, hiking and on other rainforest excursions.

It hires and trains locals to manage operations and teach guests about local cultures first-hand — and has launched several reforestation efforts and an education program that teaches elementary students across Costa Rica about the importance of protecting the rainforest in their backyards.

Another organization is 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking in Nepal, which trains local women to be tourism professionals and trekking guides. In just a few short years the group, which promotes low-impact treks in the Himalaya region, has trained 600 women as ambassadors to the outdoors across Nepal and beyond.

Apiring geotourism professionals can learn about their future profession by focusing on it as part of a new concentration within the geography department of Missouri State University.

CONTACTS: CSD, travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/sustainable; Rio Tropicales, riostropicales.com; 3 Sisters, 3sistersadventure.com; Missouri State University Geotourism Concentration, missouristate.edu/academics/details.aspx?id=81642.
EarthTalk is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E/The Environmental Magazine, emagazine.com. Send questions to earthtalk@emagazine.com.














 



Local events heading








  Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.




(More History)