"Geotourism is an approach to tourism that sustains or enhances the geographic character of a place its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well being of its residents."

As gateways to one of New York State's top attractions, Letchworth State Park, our communities have a special opportunity to promote their proximity to the Park and the Genesee Valley Region’s natural assets as the market for food tourism, sustainability, and off-the-beaten track experiences continues to grow. While these trends present exciting economic potential, it is also important for our communities to evaluate the best tourism-related market opportunities and visitor segments to help us forge a robust, sustainable economy, while preserving our natural assets and quality of life. 

To help guide this effort, the Letchworth Gateway Villages initiative launched Western New York’s first Geotourism Map Guide Project in April 2018 for the municipalities surrounding Letchworth State Park. Through this project LGV embarked on a 12-month collaborative branding process using National Geographic’s Geotourism methodology to create a destination brand and sustainable tourism strategy anchored to Letchworth and the Genesee Valley Region’s natural assets.

what is a geotourism program?

Geotourism is a sustainable destination and content marketing program designed to support the natural resource assets, cultural attractions and historically important places that make a region a unique and vibrant tourism destination. The program provides a forum for the strategic planning and implementation of a sustainable tourism strategy for a region, and develops a brand and engaging digital platform to promote the region’s unique attributes, attractions, and businesses. 

Since 2002, Geotourism has been an important vehicle for creating destination partnerships that promote sustainable economic development for communities in the U.S. and around the world. While there is no one entity that owns Geotourism, the approach proliferated and became well known under the National Geographic Society’s Geotourism MapGuide program which ended in 2016. Former Senior Editor of Traveler Magazine Jonathan Tourtellot coined the term Geotourism back in 2002 as a concept for defining sustainable tourism.

how is geotourism different?

What makes Geotourism distinct is that it focuses on environmental and cultural preservation, sustainability and widespread distribution of benefits across a region. The methodology employs a community-driven process to identify and highlight lesser-known attractions unique to the region and delivers an interactive web platform populated with these places of interest (POIs) described by locals. The website helps travelers find places most recommended by residents, allowing them to experience what makes the region special.

A community-driven approach

The goal of the program is to highlight a region’s natural, cultural and heritage areas and the communities that surround them through the voices of the people that live there, and in doing so, help to increase awareness and visitation to these destinations and deliver economic benefits to the people living near to them.

where has geotourism been done before?

Geotourism MapGuides have been developed for many sites within the U.S.A and around the world, including:
Lakes to Locks Passage, New York State