Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Arizona Office of Tourism seeks special cultural & historic sites by April 10, 2006

The Arizona Office of Tourism and the Sonora Office of Tourism, together with the Tucson-based Sonoran Institute and the Arizona Bureau of Land Management, are calling on locals to nominate their favorite areas and sites in the Southern Arizona-Sonora region that are geographically, culturally, and historically unique. As part of a project with National Geographic to increase knowledge about sustainable tourism and destination stewardship, the Southern Arizona and Sonora regions are compiling a map of local attractions that help promote Geotourism, which is defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place -– its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.

Called the Geotourism MapGuide project, this venture marks the first bi-national effort that National Geographic has undertaken and offers locals a chance to nominate potential points of interest for the map from the Greater Phoenix Metro area through Southern Arizona and Sonora. Click here for a map detailing the areas included. Candidates might include a national park, museum, or historic site, but might also be a private enterprise, such as a family-owned restaurant serving cuisine indicative of the border region’s heritage, a historic hotel, or community-run craft center. National Geographic expects to receive more than 1,000 nominations of sites in both Southern Arizona and Sonora and after review by National Geographic, an estimated 300 sites will be included in the MapGuide.

The Southern Arizona-Sonora region is comprised of historic structures and archaeological sites, scenic landscapes, traditional architecture and local music, cuisine, crafts, dances, and other arts that are distinctive to the area. The MapGuide project will promote these attractions and teach tourists how to experience the area in a way that will minimize impact and preserve all of the attributes that make a location unique. Local communities will benefit through valuable tourist revenue that can help restore historic districts, support local craftspeople, preserve and develop local cuisines, and retain traditional cultural celebrations and performing arts that would otherwise disappear.

To nominate a site, click here. Nomination forms can be downloaded and e-mailed or submitted directly to: Sonoran Institute, Main Office, Attn: Joaquin Murrieta-Saldivar, 7650 E. Broadway, Suite 203, Tucson, AZ 85710. Additional documentation such as maps, photos, or brochures are welcome and can be mailed to the above address. Nominations will be taken through April 10, 2006. For more information, contact Marci Elizondo by e-mail or phone: 602-364-3720.