The National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations has developed the Geotourism Charter which contains 13 principles of geotourism. The principles serve as a set of guidelines to help communities not only become better places to visit, but also better places to live. Click on a principle for an example of how it is being brought to life in the Crown of the Continent region.
Integrity of Place
Enhance geographical character by developing and improving it in ways distinctive to the local, reflective of its natural and cultural heritage, so as to encourage market differentiation and cultural pride.
Encourage growth in tourism market segments most likely to appreciate, respect, and disseminate information about the distinctive assets of the locale.
Ensure that satisfied, excited geotourists bring new vacation stories home and encourage friends to experience the same thing, thus providing continuing demand for the destination.
Base tourism on community resources to the extent possible, encouraging local small businesses and civic groups to build partnerships to promote and provide a distinctive, honest visitor experience and market their locales effectively. Help businesses develop approaches to tourism that build on the area’s nature, history and culture, including food and drink, artisanry, performance arts, etc.
Encourage micro- to medium-size enterprises and tourism business strategies that emphasize economic and social benefits to involved communities, especially poverty alleviation, with clear communication of the destination stewardship policies required to maintain those benefits.
Environmental Protection & Enhancement of Destination Appeal
Encourage businesses to sustain natural habitats, heritage sites, aesthetic appeal, and local culture. Prevent degradation by keeping volumes of tourists within maximum acceptable limits. Seek business models that can operate profitably within those limits. Use persuasion, incentives, and legal enforcement as needed.
Anticipate development pressures and apply techniques to prevent undesired overdevelopment and degradation. Contain resort and vacation-home sprawl, especially on coasts and islands, so as to retain a diversity of natural and scenic environments and ensure continued resident access to waterfronts. Encourage major self-contained tourism attractions, such as large-scale theme parks and convention centers unrelated to character of place, to be sited in needier locations with no significant ecological, scenic, or cultural assets.
Recognize and respect immediate economic needs without sacrificing long-term character and the geotourism potential of the destination. Where tourism attracts in-migration of workers, develop new communities that themselves constitute a destination enhancement. Strive to diversify the economy and limit population influx to sustainable levels. Adopt public strategies for mitigating practices that are incompatible with geotourism and damaging to the image of the destination.