Verde geotourism content sought for National Geographic Maps website

VERDE VALLEY -- Organizations from Sedona, Cottonwood, Clarkdale, Camp Verde, Jerome and Yavapai-Apache Nation are joining with National Geographic Maps to highlight the world-class natural and cultural attractions of the Verde Valley.

The program is designed to support the economic health of the region by promoting geotourism: tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place -- its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents.

The community-based nomination process launched by the Sedona-Verde Valley Tourism Council is the first public step in building a National Geographic co-branded website known as a "Geotourism MapGuide." This interactive marketing platform will highlight unique, authentic attractions on both public and private lands in Sedona and the Verde Valley. Nominations will be accepted until July 15. The website will launch in fall 2015.

Geotourism is a term that defines tourism which sustains or enhances the geographic character of a place, its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents. This type of tourism encompasses a range of travel including culture and heritage, history, food, nature, adventure the outdoors, water, music and arts.

The Verde Valley Geotourism Program will create a National Geographic Society co-branded online interactive website of the Verde Valley that identifies natural, cultural, and historic attractions that define what makes the region unique. Information for the website will be created through the stories and nominations of local residents. The program covers sites, attractions and businesses within the Verde Valley geography.

"The best travel advice comes from the people who live here," it is said.

How will the MapGuide be developed?

One of the first steps in creating a MapGuide is to convene a working group of local residents and community leaders, historic preservationists and environmentalists, businesses, river stewards, artists and musicians to oversee the project. In the Verde Valley this will be called the Sustainable Tourism Advisory Group.

This group will sponsor public forums throughout the region to encourage community involvement in the program and nomination of sites and stories that make the region unique. Nominations may include historic structures and archaeological sites, scenic landscapes and wildlife viewing areas, trails and outdoor recreation, local cuisine and culture, festivals and events, artists and water guides-the people and destinations that contribute to the unique beauty and diversity of the region.

Wednesday, May 13, Community Outreach Workshops will be held at the Blazin' M Ranch from 10-11:30 a.m.

The Geotourism partnership project with the National Geographic Society and its objectives will be explained as well as its benefits for all the Verde Valley cities, town and unincorporated sites.

If you can't make the Wednesday session, a make-up session will be held Friday May 15 from 2:30 to 4 p.m., also a Blazin' M Ranch Barn, 1875 Mabery Ranch Road.

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