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National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations has joined organizations in Washington and Oregon to publicize the world-class natural and cultural attractions of the Central Cascades.
The pilot project seeks to contribute to the economic health of communities by promoting geotourism: tourism that sustains and enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents.
A new community-based nomination process will be used to create a National Geographic Geotourism MapGuide for the region. The Central Cascades area designated for the map stretches from Mount Rainier National Park to Crater Lake National Park, including communities plus private and public lands in both states. The printed Central Cascades MapGuide will be available in September 2009. A parallel interactive Web site is also being developed.
“From Mount Rainier to Crater Lake, the spectacular beauty and recreational opportunities of the Central Cascades are unique,” said James Dion, associate director of the Center for Sustainable Destinations. “National Geographic is pleased to have the opportunity to spotlight this region and, in doing so, support and sustain it as one of the treasured natural places on the globe.”
Washington and Oregon both seek to grow rural tourism. They also acknowledge the sensitive balance between growth and conservation, particularly in the Central Cascades region. Both states look to identify and develop products that would be attractive to a geotourist as a means to achieve balanced economic growth.
“Stimulating economic growth in the Central Cascades by encouraging geotourism efforts is a win-win,” explained Marsha Massey, executive director, Washington State Tourism. “The potential for the region to be sought out for its intrinsic assets is tremendous.”
According to a 2002 study by National Geographic Traveler magazine and the U.S. Travel Association, more than 55 million adults in the United States could be described as geotourists, who travel to enjoy the distinctive character of places and want them to stay appealing. These travelers control more than half the household income of all U.S. travelers. Additional perceived benefits of the MapGuide include calling forth the themes that are important to conserving the gems of the region; laying the groundwork for future collaboration of individual, business, community and conservation interests; building pride in the region and its communities; and inspiring stewardship of the region.
Residents and visitors are invited to nominate for inclusion in the MapGuide the landmarks, attractions, activities, events and local businesses that define the region’s character and distinctive appeal. Nominations may be made through March 29, 2009, at www.thecentralcascades.com.