Sierra Nevada, California

Supporting economic growth, cultural heritage preservation, and ecological conservation in the Sierra Nevada region through sustainable tourism marketing initiatives.

  • Client: Sierra Nevada Business Council
  • Partners: National Geographic Maps Division
  • Project Duration: March 2009 – May 2010

Project Description

The beautiful, rugged landscape of the Sierra Nevada region along the California-Nevada border has supported a plethora of human communities—from Native Americans and early mountain pioneer communities to gold miners, farmers and ski resort entrepreneurs—and has fostered a fantastic environment for nature lovers, explorers, and businessmen to come together to create a vibrant tourism destination. However, popularity of the many iconic locations in the Sierra Nevada region threatens those assets when tourism visitation is highly concentrated. Highly concentrated tourism results in detrimental environmental impacts, degrades visitor experience and does not lend economic support to less visible surrounding locations. Linking conservation practices with local business interests helps preserve the region’s cherished cultural and environmental heritage while contributing to economic growth.

In partnership with National Geographic, the Sierra Nevada Business Council promotes geotourism development and contributes to the region’s competitiveness as a tourism destination by facilitating collaboration between all relevant business owners, local governments, interest groups and residents and helps market the region’s sustainable tourism assets. Solimar assists in the implementation of key Sierra Nevada Geotourism activities such as the establishment of the Geotourism Stewardship Council and the development of marketing tools and strategies that contribute to the ongoing process of promoting this unique region to the world. A Mapguide was developed to promote the Sierra Nevada region to more responsible and educated travelers who will be curious to explore this destination.

The MapGuide solution does not only help create a more positive and distinct image of the region, but also facilitates efficient cooperation among stakeholders in promoting the entire region as an integrated destination. In addition, by focusing on authentic local attractions and service providers, the Mapguide secures increased market visibility for smaller local businesses, which adds to the socio-economic benefits generated by tourism.

Major Activities

  • Facilitate relationship building and cooperation: establishment of the Sierra Nevada Geotourism Stewardship Council to oversee and implement geotourism activities in the region.
  • Develop Geotourism MapGuide: members of the Council initiated a process of nominating attractions and tourism service providers, which adhered to geotourism principles. Initial nominations were reviewed and included in the MapGuide while Council members and local stakeholders continue to generate nominations and add to the content of the interactive platform. The Mapguide project has facilitated cooperation among stakeholders in the region, which continues to operate beyond the life of the project.
  • Develop online travel tools: continue enriching the Sierra Nevada Geotourism MapGuide with an interactive website that includes trip planning tools and information on the region’s authentic culture, history, and environment.


  • Establishment of the Sierra Nevada Wide Geocouncil
  • Three paper MapGuides developed
  • Project launch in the Yosemite by-way region in August 2009
  • Nine local newspapers and three local television stations covered launch events
  • 23 geotourism forums held in the region
  • 1,400 site nominations received
  • Sierra Nevada Geotourism website launched March 2010– public site still in development
  • 722 local content contributors providing 823 active content website entries


Related Stories

Linking Tourism Development & Conservation in Baja California

By on July 31st, 2013

Sierra de la Giganta is one of the last remaining wild stretches of Baja California Sur’s coastline, but it is increasingly coming under the pressure of developers who are eager to replicate Mexico’s other tourism mega-destinations. It is also one of Mexico’s poorest regions, with existing economic options limited to fishing, mining, and other resource […]

Read more

Destination Management and Planning in Baja California Sur, Mexico

By on April 11th, 2014

Sierra la Giganta in Baja California Sur, Mexico is a remote and remarkable desert landscape where soaring red rock mountains plunge into the clear and cool waters of the Gulf of California. Solimar International and local partner RED Sustainable Travel have been working in the region for the last year to develop a destination management and marketing plan that promotes Sierra la Giganta’s unique natural […]

Read more

Sustainability in Progress: Adapting a Developed Destination

By on April 12th, 2013

The winners of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC)’s Tourism for Tomorrow awards were announced earlier this week, recognizing the global leaders in sustainable tourism best practices. This past February I had the privilege of serving as an on-site evaluator for one of the finalists – Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC). I spent three days on the island […]

Read more

“We rely confidently on Solimar's deep technical experience and professionalism as tourism consultants. You always are exceeding our expectations.”
Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

Contact us

  • Address

    3400 11th Street NW, Suite 200
    Washington, DC 20010
  • Phone

    (202) 518-6192