When done poorly, tourism can significantly damage a destination and its appeal. When done correctly, tourism can bring economic benefits and create the incentive to conserve natural assets and cultural heritage. Geotourism encourages visitors and residents alike to work for the long-term sustainability of a place.
What is the Go Blue Bay Islands Geotoursim website?
The Go Blue Bay Islands Geotourism website is an online platform that provides local residents and tourism businesses a powerful tool to tell their story and promote their destinations and products at a global scale alongside one of the most recognizable and trusted brands in the world.
Local residents will generate most of the content for the Go Blue Bay Islands Geotourism website by “nominating” local points of interest, businesses and unique experiences. Each approved nomination will be featured on its own webpage within the website (including a description, photos and video, and contact information), as well as placed on an interactive map of the region.
In addition, the Go Blue Bay Islands Geotourism website will feature other inspirational content and travel planning tools that will help attract and connect visitors from around the world to this destination and their local businesses and points of interest.
Twenty-two Geotourism website projects have been completed or are underway in 16 countries around the world, and Geotourism websites average 20,000 unique visitor hits per month…with the most popular websites reaching up to 40,000 visitors per month.
How is the website developed?
The project has been led by the conservation organization CORAL Reef Alliance, where the first step has been the creation of a local ”Geotourism Stewardship Council” made up of residents, community and government leaders, environmentalists, and business owners. The Council’s overall role is to guide the development and coordination of the Geotourism website to ensure that it accurately reflects the character of the destination and its residents.
Public forums and presentations are then held throughout the region to increase local awareness of the project and to encourage local residents to complete site “nominations” of local businesses and attractions that will be featured on the Geotourism website.
Next, the local Geotourism Stewardship Council reviews the nominations, edit and verify the content, and incorporate it into a well-designed and interactive National Geographic–branded Geotourism website.
Finally, National Geographic and project partners launch a global marketing campaign to promote the Geotourism Website through its network of publications and partners, through innovative online marketing and social media channels, and through national and international press coverage.
Who will maintain the website once it is completed?
Once the Geotourism website is completed and launched, the local Geotourism Stewardship Councils continue to oversee and ensure the website’s sustainability. These efforts are supported through an ongoing relationship with National Geographic. In addition, the Council works with the project participants and local residents to continue to develop new content for the website and encourage cooperative efforts to better promote the destination as an outstanding and sustainable tourism destination.
How does Geotourism benefit local residents?
First, the Geotourism Program gives communities and local businesses a chance to share their story and market their tourism products to a global audience. By providing this market access to micro, small and medium-sized businesses, the website allows visitors to find the authentic and often “undiscovered” attractions that are truly unique to the destination and exist nowhere else. This improves the visitor experience, giving visitors more things to do, and often keeps visitors at a destination for a longer period of time…something that can create benefits for everyone. The website can also increase the financial benefits of tourism to micro, small, and medium-sized businesses.
Second, the Geotourism Program highlights and celebrates those businesses and local initiatives that are striving to support sustainability and protect the natural and cultural resources that define and bring visitors to a destination in the first place.
Third, the Geotourism Program encourages more tourism businesses to adopt tourism “Best Practices” by offering sustainability training and supporting signage to all participating businesses. In addition, the Geotourism Program encourages businesses to display “Codes of Conduct” signage for visitors to follow that inform them of the various ways in which they can support Geotourism at the destination, as well as reduce their negative impact on the natural and cultural resources.
What are some of National Geographic’s other Geotourism Websites?