The first "Geotourism" conference in the Southeast - Geotourism: A Promising Strategy for Sustainable Economic Development, planned in partnership with National Geographic, will be held at the Chattanooga Marriott Downtown on Thursday, Aug. 15. The day-long conference will explore how geotourism can be a driver for economic growth.
Geotourism enhances preservation of the cultural, historical and natural resources that draw people to a region and promotes a business ethic that places a high value on protecting distinctive places through wisely managed tourism and destination stewardship, officials said.
The conference will provide ideas, incentives and inspiration on ways to market a community, business, festival, or local attraction, while enhancing quality of life in the region. The program offers opportunities for discussion and interaction with regional experts, National Geographic staff, a destination marketing organization and an award-winning national tour operator.
The program will be of interest to tourism sites, hospitality businesses, chambers of commerce, local planning agencies, parks and recreation departments, museums, outfitters, and others looking for ways to promote, enhance and preserve local tourism.
Conference speakers include John Campbell, national brand manager for National Geographic Travel Group; Dan Austin, director of Austin-Lehman Adventures, a company specializing in world-wide adventure travel; Chris Seek, with Solimar International, a firm specializing in sustainable travel, along with Commissioner Susan Whitaker from the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. Regional speakers include Vicki Simms from Gatlinburg CVB; Carol Evans, Legacy Parks Foundation; Ken Rush, Ducktown Basin Museum, and Philip Grymes from Outdoor Chattanooga.
"National Geographic is pleased to have partnered with the East Tennessee River Valley region to develop the first Geotourism MapGuide in the Southeast," said, Mr. Campbell, who will be the conference keynote speaker. "This region has a great deal to build on in branding its geotourism image as a National Geographic Destination."
The conference is sponsored by the Southeast Watershed Forum and East Tennessee River Valley Geotourism Council with financial support from the Lyndhurst Foundation, Benwood Foundation and Plan East Tennessee.
Review the program agenda online and register before the late fee applies. To view the MapGuide go to www.TennesseeRiverValleyGeotourism.org