Sustainable Travel: National Geographic Geotourism Maps

by  Jill K. Robinson | Jun 4, 2013
Hiking / daniilphotos/iStock

Travelers with a preference for environmentally sustainable practices don't have a wealth of resources when on the road. As with travel in general, it's often necessary to carve together information from a variety of sources – from books, to magazines, online resources, and word of mouth. Sometimes it's like a treasure hunt to find the ideal place, and sometimes it's just plain tedious. Luckily, we've found something that should make this process easier! The National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations (CSD) helps locations incorporate a geotourism approach to protect a destination and attract the most beneficial (and least disruptive) travelers.

What's the geotourism approach, you ask? It's tourism that "sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place – its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents." One of the most visible CSD programs that travelers can use is online co-branded National Geographic maps that highlight natural, cultural, and historic attractions in a destination. To create these MapGuides, the CSD works with community-based local geotourism alliances.

MapGuide projects that have been completed or are ongoing are: New York’s Lakes to Lock Passage, the Four Corners Region, Portugal’s Douro Valley, the Sierra Nevada, Central Cascades, Appalachia, Sonora Desert (Arizona, Sonora – pictured to the right), Baja California, California's Redwood Coast, Crown of the Continent (Alberta, British Columbia, Montana), Greater Yellowstone, Guatemala, Honduras, Montreal, Norway, Peru, Rhode Island, Romania, Vermont, and more.

If you're traveling to one of the areas where a MapGuide is available, check it out and see how it can help you. If you want to help build alliances for better destination stewardship in a place you love, take a look at the resource directory for communities to see how you can pitch in.

Do you try to travel to sustainable destinations? Where are some of your favorites?

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