ARC and National Geographic Announce First "MapGuide to Appalachia"
WASHINGTON, March 18, 2005—The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the National Geographic Society today announced the release of the first-of-its-kind Geotourism MapGuide to Appalachia, to be featured as a pull-out bonus in the April 2005 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.
The geotourism map is the result of a unique alliance between ARC and the National Geographic Society to design a map that will stimulate economic development by showcasing the remarkable diversity of the Appalachian Region's natural, cultural, and heritage assets. Geotourism is tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a location, including its environment, culture, aesthetics, and heritage, and the well-being of its residents. To create this map, ARC's state and local partners nominated over 1,000 destinations and experiences that they believe represent authentic Appalachia.
Following extensive research, National Geographic selected 356 sites in the Region, which Keith Bellows, editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler magazine, has called "an undiscovered national treasure." Eye-catching photographs and informative text authored by Appalachian writers complete the map.
The companion Web site at www.nationalgeographic.com/appalachia/map.html features articles on Appalachia, links to all 13 Appalachian states' tourism Web sites, and an interactive map of the Region to assist travelers from anywhere in the world in planning their trips. It also includes links to more than 100 sites from the printed version of the map and encourages regional exploration. Additional sites will be added to the Web site during the year.
ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne B. Pope welcomed the release of the map, noting that "cultural heritage tourism is one of the fastest-growing sectors in tourism today. This guide is an economic development tool that will help Appalachian communities diversify their economies and take full advantage of the Region's rich, diverse, and, in many cases, undiscovered assets."
Ohio Governor Bob Taft, ARC's 2005 states' co-chair, said, "This collaboration between ARC and National Geographic will draw people from all over the United States and around the world to many of the unique and significant tourism experiences that the Appalachian Region has to offer. This campaign draws attention to many of the rich, diverse, and, in many cases, undiscovered treasures in the 13 Appalachian states and will have a positive economic impact on the Region."
According to Travel Industry Association of America estimates, tourism is a $554.5 billion industry employing nearly 7.2 million people in the United States in 2003. The cultural heritage tourism sector has been growing twice as fast as the overall travel market, with the Appalachian Region boasting 6 of the top 10 states most visited by travelers from this sector.
Fact Sheet on the MapGuide to Appalachia
What is the Geotourism MapGuide to Appalachia?
This is a first-of-its-kind tool designed to stimulate economic development by showcasing the incredible diversity of the Appalachian Region's natural, cultural, and heritage assets. This map delivers a taste of Appalachia's distinctive culture and heritage to a wide audience, exposing this "undiscovered national treasure" to many first-time visitors.
How was it developed?
This unique partnership between ARC and National Geographic leverages the highly regarded cartographic and editorial expertise of the National Geographic Society, ARC's extensive knowledge and contacts throughout the Region, and the knowledge and experience of the members of ARC's Tourism Advisory Council.
Who will see this map?
The MapGuide to Appalachia will be inserted in the April 2005 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine, which is read by over 4 million people across the country. An additional 300,000 copies of the map will be distributed by the state tourism offices of the 13 Appalachian states to targeted traveler mailing lists, regional welcome centers, and tourism trade shows. ARC will also distribute the map to schools, libraries, and civic organizations throughout Appalachia.
Is the map available on the Internet?
Yes, on the companion Web site at http://www.nationalgeographic.com/appalachia/map.html. Building on the print map, this site features original articles, links to the 13 Appalachian states' tourism Web sites, links to the Web sites of related destinations, and an interactive map of the Region to assist travelers from anywhere in the world in planning their trip to the Region. The Web version of the map initially includes links to over 100 of the sites from the printed version and will be updated quarterly with additional sites and events during the year.
Who will see the online version?
The number of visitors to www.nationalgeographic.com ranges from 5 to 7 million per month. These visitors tend to be frequent travelers eager to experience National Geographic's featured destinations.
Will additional sites and events be added to the Web site?
Yes. The interactive Web version of the map will initially include links to over 100 of the sites from the printed version and will be updated quarterly with additional sites from the print version throughout the year.
What kind of information is included on the MapGuide?
The MapGuide provides a striking visual representation of Appalachia's distinctive geography, culture, and heritage. Eye-catching photographs and informative thematic text authored by Appalachian writers complete this remarkable product. It includes destinations like scenic hikes, diverse music venues, museums, and craft and artisan shops—all sites frequented by locals.
How were the sites selected?
ARC's state and local partners nominated over 1,000 destinations and experiences that they believe represent authentic Appalachia. Based on extensive research, 356 sites were selected by National Geographic as representative of the Region's rich, diverse, and, in many cases, undiscovered treasures.
How will ARC measure the map's economic impact?
ARC will be working with many of the featured sites to gather information about the increase in the volume of travelers, revenues generated, and other effects attributable to this project in order to assess the impact on the local and regional economies.
How important is tourism to the economy?
According to Travel Industry Association of America estimates of direct impact, tourism is a $554.5 billion industry employing nearly 7.2 million people in the United States in 2003. The cultural heritage tourism sector has been growing twice as fast as the overall travel market, and the Appalachian Region boasts 6 of the top 10 states most visited by travelers from this sector. Travelers from this group also tend to stay longer and spend more than the average tourist on their trips. Given the richness of Appalachia's existing resources, cultural heritage tourism can be an important part of the Region's overall economic strategy, and this guide can help maximize a valuable revenue stream for Appalachian businesses.
What is the Appalachian Regional Commission?
ARC is a unique partnership between the federal government and the 13 Appalachian states, created to help the people of Appalachia reach socioeconomic parity with the rest of the nation. The Appalachian Region, defined by Congress, includes 23 million people in 410 counties. It includes parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, and all of West Virginia.
How will this benefit local Appalachian communities?
The goal is to maximize the revenue stream for travel- and tourism-related businesses and to diversify local economies while offering travelers experiences that are both enjoyable and educational.
What does the term "geotourism" on the MapGuide mean?
National Geographic defines geotourism as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, and heritage, and the well-being of its residents. The goals of geotourism include enhancing the integrity of place, ensuring tourist satisfaction, and encouraging local economic benefit.
How can I learn more?
Information on ARC and on the Appalachian Region is available at www.arc.gov. Additional resources designed to increase knowledge about sustainable tourism and destination stewardship are available at National Geographic's Sustainable Tourism Resource Center at www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/sustainable.