What's special about Columbus? Nominate your pick for National Geographic map

June 22, 2013 6:52:37 PM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


Is there something special about Columbus you think everyone should know about? Well, this is your opportunity to tell someone. 


The U.S. Gulf States Geotourism Council is working with the National Geographic Society to create a U.S. Gulf States Geotourism MapGuide, interactive website and mobile app -- and you're invited to nominate sites for potential inclusion by July 15. 


Residents, visitors, community organizations, tourism stakeholders and local businesses are asked to visit usgulfcoaststatesgeotourism.com to fill out a nomination form. To nominate a site offline, fill out a printed nomination form and submit it to the contact listed on the form.  


"It really is an advantage for us to have sites included in the geotourism guide," said Nancy Carpenter, executive director of the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau. "We wanted to open this up to the public and offer everyone a chance to nominate a site." 


This isn't the first time the Friendly City has been included in the guide. The Tennessee Williams Home, for example, earned a previous listing.  


"Just think how many places here are eligible, like the Tennessee Williams Home and Friendship Cemetery, where two Mississippi governors are buried as well as a soldier from every war from the War of 1812 to the Bosnian conflict," Carpenter said. 




What is geotourism?  


Geotourism is tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place -- its environment, heritage, aesthetics, culture and the well-being of its residents, according to the National Geographic Society. It encompasses a range of travel including culture and heritage, history, food, nature, the outdoors, water, music, trails, natural landmarks, artisans and storytellers, as well as local legends that capture the region's unique character.  


The U.S. Gulf States Geotourism Program wants to map the best of the Gulf States -- Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi -- by capturing and promoting the essence of the region through the voices and stories of the people that live here.  


Using the public's recommendations, the National Geographic Society will produce a geotourism website, app and print mapguide to promote travel to the Gulf States.  


"The guidelines for making nominations are very simple," said Carpenter. 


Ask yourself 


A test for inclusion on the mapguide would be: is the spot, attraction, business, activity or experience distinctive to our town, area or region, and is it authentic to the Gulf States?  


A few examples given by the National Geographic Society include: 


  • Remarkable natural areas and geologic features such as creeks, lakes, bluffs and rivers; 


  • Heritage sites, museums, performing arts, music and literature; 


  • Distinctive wildlife habitats and notable species of animals; 


  • Places featuring local cuisine or agricultural products, such as at the farmers' market; 


  • Scenic hiking trails, bike routes, birding trails; 


  • Local artists, historians or storytellers; 


  • Community stewardship projects, conservation or restoration initiatives. 


    Nominators are asked to provide a 20-70 word description of what makes their recommendation unique or interesting.  


    The National Geographic Society will work closely with the U.S. Gulf States Geotourism Council to select the sites and themes that will appear on the map. The Society will make the final determination on working and site selection. 


    "We hope everyone will take time to go by the site and make a nomination by the July 15 deadline," urged Carpenter.  




    On the Web: 


    ■ usgulfstatesgeotourism.com

    Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.