ARC and National Geographic Announce Appalachian Driving Tours Map
WASHINGTON, March 20, 2008—The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the National Geographic Society today announced the release of the new Driving Tours Appalachia map. Commissioned by ARC, the map features 28 driving tours in the Appalachian Region that lead to a broad array of historical, archaeological, cultural, and scenic sites.
The driving tours map is the result of an alliance between ARC and National Geographic to design maps that will stimulate economic development by showcasing the remarkable diversity of the Appalachian Region's natural and heritage assets.
Supplemented with colorful photos, descriptive text, and detailed information for travelers, the map has been distributed to 865,000 subscribers in the April 2008 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine as well as to other target audiences in the Region.
ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne B. Pope welcomed the launch of the new map. "As the successor to the highly successful National Geographic MapGuide to Appalachia, which was launched in March 2005, we expect it to continue to increase visitation to the Region in measurable ways," said Pope. "The driving trails featured in this map represent wonderful opportunities to see all the natural treasures Appalachia has to offer."
National Geographic editor Keith Bellows noted that "with the theme of 'all travel, all the time,' National Geographic Traveler celebrates journeys that are about place, experience, culture, and authenticity. It makes a distinction between tourism and travel, and aims to inspire readers to pick up and go. The Driving Tours Appalachia map does just that. Appalachia contains a wealth of natural, historic, and cultural treasures, and we're excited to give travelers a great tool to seek out the more than 300 sites featured on the printed map."
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, ARC's 2008 states' co-chair, said, "This new National Geographic map of the driving trails of Appalachia highlights more of the rich tourism experiences that are available in our region. It will help increase traveling, lodging, shopping, and dining and comes as a welcome boost to the economies of our local communities."
According to Travel Industry Association of America estimates, tourism is a $740 billion industry that employed nearly 7.5 million people in the United States in 2006. The cultural heritage tourism sector has been growing twice as fast as the overall travel market, and the Appalachian Region boasts six of the top ten most-visited states in the sector.
Map readers are encouraged to "visit" Appalachia online through the Web site www.visitappalachia.com. The site includes downloadable maps of the 28 driving tours, Google map features to help travelers plan their next driving vacation to Appalachia, and links to the 13 Appalachian state tourism offices for additional information.