Geotourism initiative seeks to boost national and international tourism to middle and upper Delaware River region
NEW YORK — Business owners, organizational leaders, elected officials, National Park Service staff, and community leaders from the Scenic, Wild Delaware River geotourism initiative are introducing America’s newest and most compelling travel destination: the “Scenic, Wild Delaware River.”
The Scenic, Wild Delaware River region offers unique cultural, recreational and natural experiences along the upper and middle Delaware River. Its attractions lay within a few hours’ drive of New York City, Trenton and Philadelphia. The region is anchored by three river-based national parks: Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and Middle Delaware National Scenic River.
Here visitors can fish, swim and canoe in a river carved by geologic time and human history. They can connect with nature by watching eagles soar overhead and deer browse in forests and fields. The family can enjoy waterfalls that make the heart leap, learn to catch a fish, and picnic along the river’s banks. Visitors can discover friendly towns steeped in culture and history nestled among a postcard landscape from a bygone era.
The Scenic, Wild Delaware River “MapGuide,” created in coordination with National Geographic Maps, is an interactive travel website featuring more than 600 landmarks, natural resources, attractions, activities, events, lodging and dining venues nominated for inclusion in the MapGuide by local residents, businesses, organizations, public and private land managers, educators, and community establishments.
The MapGuide aims to attract a niche market of national and international geotourists to the Scenic, Wild Delaware River region. This resource will serve national and international tourists seeking culturally and naturally authentic places, and it will allow visitors access to travel advice from local residents in order to create their own itineraries. The MapGuide may be accessed at www.delawareriver.natgeotourism.com.
“The ‘Scenic, Wild Delaware River’ is one of only 23 geotourism programs worldwide,” said Bryan Cope, chair of the initiative’s Stewardship Council, and Northampton County, Pennsylvania’s Open Space Coordinator. “Our communities look forward to welcoming travelers who appreciate our region’s unique beauty and character.”
“Our Scenic, Wild Delaware River geotourism initiative not only brands the middle and upper Delaware River region as a destination for responsible, meaningful tourism, it also will help us sustain our unique history and culture,” said Geotourism Stewardship Council member Carl Wilgus, president and CEO of Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau in Pennsylvania.
“This geotourism initiative has brought communities across the region closer, and it promotes all of our amazing assets to better preserve the cultural, historic and natural attractions that we all love,” said Stewardship Council member Roberta Byron-Lockwood, president and CEO of New York’s Sullivan County Visitors Association.
“We’re all united by the Delaware River, and the partnerships we’ve built through this geotourism initiative will help us promote what’s special about where we live and share it with visitors,” said Stewardship Council member Tammie A. Horsfield, president of the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce in New Jersey.
“Not only is this region a short drive from major cities, the middle and upper Delaware River region also is culturally and geographically significant,” said James Dion, National Geographic Maps’ director of tourism programs. “This geotourism initiative underscores the importance of connecting communities in an area to share their tremendous scenic, historic and cultural assets, and helping them thrive together for future generations.”
A locally based Geotourism Stewardship Council collaboratively oversees and manages the Scenic, Wild Delaware River geotourism initiative. The Council’s first product is the MapGuide. Residents and visitors may continue to nominate new sites, events and special places for the website, which will be dynamic and constantly updated.
The Scenic, Wild Delaware River geotourism initiative seeks to contribute to the area’s economic health and long-term vitality by promoting geotourism: Tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents. On average, geotourists are highly educated, take four or more leisure trips per year, care about the protection and preservation of the places they visit, and about half have annual household incomes above $75,000.
The Scenic, Wild Delaware River region includes Sussex and Warren counties in New Jersey; Delaware, Orange and Sullivan counties in New York; and Monroe, Northampton, Pike and Wayne counties in Pennsylvania.
Initial funding for the Scenic, Wild Delaware River geotourism initiative was provided by a grant from the William Penn Foundation, with funding also from the Claneil Foundation, to the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). The nonpartisan NPCA is a nonprofit, independent advocacy organization working to protect and enhance America’s national parks.
National Geographic Maps has partnered with communities across the United States and the world to produce more than 20 Geotourism MapGuides, including for the Greater Yellowstone (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming), Crown of Continent (Montana, British Columbia, Alberta), U.S. Gulf Coast States (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida), Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province and The Bahamas Family of Islands.
National Geographic Maps was established as a division of the National Geographic Society in 1915 and has been producing maps for National Geographic magazine and other Society groups for 100 years. National Geographic Maps produces outdoor recreation mapping software, Trails Illustrated maps and software, globes, wall maps, travel maps and atlases. For more information on National Geographic Maps, visit www.natgeomaps.com.
The initial “Scenic, Wild Delaware River” Geotourism Stewardship Council includes travel and tourism industry representatives; businesses owners; members of cultural, art and historical organizations; members of local Chambers of Commerce and economic development groups; conservation and recreation organizations; local public and private land managers; and other community leaders throughout the region: