Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society-NL partnership with National Geographic Will Lead to Development of Geotourism Guide

(Photo: Creative commons - flickr.com/spoon mushroom)

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter (CPAWS-NL), will develop a MapGuide of the province’s eastern region with an investment of $102,388 from the Provincial Government. The project, in partnership with National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Tourism, will create a geotourism website and companion hardcopy booklet.

Geotourism is defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place, its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents. It encompasses adventure and nature-based travel, eco- and agri-tourism, cultural and heritage travel.

“Geotourism is a growing sector that holds tremendous economic potential for the development and expansion of new and existing sustainable tourism products and experiences in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said the Honourable Susan Sullivan, Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development. “This project will further highlight our abundant cultural and natural attributes while spotlighting businesses and sites that subscribe to the principles of geotourism.”

This initiative will build on the eastern region’s tourism sector, which has received international recognition for its contribution and sustainability. In 2010, National Geographic’s Traveler magazine rated the Avalon Peninsula as the top coastal destination in the world citing the balanced approach taken in developing the tourism industry while maintaining the province’s natural and cultural integrity.

“Geotourism is an essential component of the growth and development of the overall tourism strategy in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said the Honourable Terry French, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. “This partnership will further promote our great province and add to the economy of the region.”

CPAWS is a national non-profit charitable conservation group working to protect Canada’s wild ecosystems in parks, wilderness and similar natural areas, in order to preserve the full diversity of habitats and their species. The Newfoundland and Labrador chapter was formed in 2003 and currently has over 150 members and volunteers throughout the province.

“The Geotourism MapGuide will celebrate the area’s abundant scenic, cultural and historical attributes and attract visitors seeking authentic travel experiences,” said Suzanne Dooley, Co-Executive Director of CPAWS-NL. “It will generate a printed MapGuide and an interactive website to promote and enhance the region’s natural, cultural and historical attractions to draw visitors seeking authentic travel experiences as well as encourage a sense of pride in local communities.”

Tanya Edwards, Co-Executive Director of CPAWS-NL echoed her colleague’s enthusiasm regarding the value of the initiative.

“This project addresses the need to preserve the region’s cultural and environmental assets while stimulating economic development in rural communities,” said Ms. Edwards. “Residents of the region will provide information for the online and print MapGuides during a three-month nomination period to begin late September.”

This initiative was funded through the Regional/Sectoral Diversification Fund. This program through Budget 2011 Standing Strong: For Prosperity. For Our Future. For Newfoundland and Labrador has $5 million available for investment. Administered by the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, the program provides non-repayable contributions to economic development agencies for initiatives that address regional and sectoral development and diversification.

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