A Progress Evaluation of National Geographic's Geotourism Program
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National Geographic’s Geotourism Program is a sustainable tourism initiative designed to ease the negative impacts of mass tourism through a branding opportunity and grassroots structure that empowers local stakeholders to showcase regional and cultural identity. While previous studies on National Geographic’s Geotourism Program have investigated the potential and achieved successes from certain perspectives, the Geotourism charter mandates that program evaluation should consider all stakeholder interests. This study contributes to a comprehensive evaluation by analyzing progress from a previously unexplored perspective: that of the participating sites in two regions: Sierra Nevada and Crown of the Continent (COTC) region. Quantitative and qualitative data collection instruments gather information from participating sites that then is evaluated by indicators in three categories: social, environmental and economic. Social impact proves to be the strongest success of the project as participants are encouraged to learn about the assets of their region, and share regional information with visitors. The study also reveals that participants who buy into the Geotourism Project by educating visitors and incorporating it into their business planning documents recognize the greatest degree of project impact. Analysis of the results yields recommendations for how stakeholder education and involvement, impact measurement, and project positioning can be more effectively integrated into each destination’s strategic plan.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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