Supporting economic growth, cultural heritage preservation, and ecological conservation in the U.S. Gulf States through sustainable tourism marketing initiatives.
- Client: Vernon Parish Tourism Commission (funded by a grant from BP) & The State of Louisiana as the fiscal agent for the four states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi (funded by a grant from US Dept of Transportation)
- Partners: National Geographic Maps Division
- Project Duration: February 2013 – December 2013
The gulf coast of the United States, known by many as the ‘southern crescent,’ includes Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi and is a mixing-pot of unique natural sites, cultures, cuisine, history, and artistic expression. For centuries this region has attracted people, coming to the area for commerce, refuge, leisure or a myriad of other reasons and has become one of the most popular tourism destinations in the country. Each state is unique, but they are all related through a common geography, interlacing environments and history as well as the connection between travel experiences within the States. The U.S. Gulf States Geotourism Program seeks to capture and promote the unique culture and heritage of this extraordinary region through the voices and stories of the people that live there. The challenge is to organize all industry stakeholders across the states to develop marketing tools to widely promote the region as a world-class tourism destination.
The States of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi (through grants from BP Gulf Seafood and Tourism Promotional Fund Grant and the US Department of Transportation) have partnered with National Geographic and Solimar to promote Geotourism development and contribute to the region’s competitiveness as a tourism destination by facilitating collaboration between local business owners, governments, interest groups and residents and helps market the region’s sustainable tourism assets. Solimar managed the implementation of the U.S .Gulf Coast States Geotourism activities such as the establishment of the Stewardship Council and the development of marketing tools and strategies that contribute to the ongoing promotion of this unique region. The Geotourism MapGuide presents the U.S. Gulf Coast States region to the world through an online interactive map, mobile application and print map.
The Geotourism 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 Geotourism Mapguide secures increased market visibility for smaller local businesses and attractions, which adds to the socio-economic benefits generated by tourism in the region.
- Facilitate relationship building and cooperation: establishment of the U.S. Gulf Coast States Geotourism Stewardship Council to oversee and implement geotourism activities in the region.
- Develop Geotourism MapGuide: Over 1,000 people, including members of the Council and local residents, initiated a process of nominating over 1,800 individual attractions and tourism service providers in the region, which adhered to Geotourism principles established by the Council. Nominations were reviewed and included in the Geotourism MapGuide.
- Develop online and print travel tools:The U.S. Gulf Coast States Geotourism MapGuide is an interactive website that includes trip planning tools and information on the region’s authentic culture, history and environment. A mobile application and print map were also developed from this process, coupled with a communications and promotional campaign to reach out to potential travelers.
- Strategic plan, business plan and marketing strategy to guide the long term sustainability of the program and increase sustainable tourism and competitiveness in the U.S. Gulf Coast States region
- Establishment of the U.S. Gulf Coast States region Stewardship Council
- Creation and distribution of the U.S. Gulf Coast States Geotourism MapGuide (print map)
- Creation of a National Geographic co-branded website and mobile application that provides information on local, authentic tourism businesses in the region.
- Marketing efforts that helped the Geotourism Program generate 35,000 unique visitors to its website, build a community of over 3,000 Facebook followers and generate over 1.8 media impressions using content from the website.
- Solimar also assisted local partners raise an additional $80,000 for continuation of the program.