Supporting Global Development through Sustainable Tourism

NGS Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area Geotourism Program

Promoting unique and authentic attractions along the 40 miles of free-flowing Delaware River in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.


  • Client: National Geographic Maps Division
  • Partners: National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Delaware Water Gap National Recreation
  • Project Duration: August 2015 – June 2016

Project Overview

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area Geotourism Program is working to support the natural resource assets, cultural attractions and historically important places that make this region a unique and vibrant tourism destination. The program will provide a forum for the strategic planning and implementation of a sustainable tourism strategy for the region, and develop a vibrant digital website to promote the region’s unique sites, attractions, businesses and places.

The larger of the two parks in the target area, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area protects 70,000 acres of forests, floodplains, waterfalls, marshes, beaches, and mountain terrain along a 40-miles of the free-flowing Delaware River. New Jersey and Pennsylvania share this natural gem, which hosts four to five million visitors each year.

The national recreation area—managed by the National Park Service and often referred to as “the park”—is located close to large urban populations, yet seems a world away. More than 25 million residents in the New York City and Philadelphia metropolitan areas live within about a two-hour drive the park.

Tourism is an important part of the economy in the region surrounding the national recreation area. One in five jobs in the five counties immediately adjacent to the park is related to tourism and travel, an industry that grew 26 percent between 1998 and 2012. The four-county Pocono Mountains region in Pennsylvania—which includes two of the park-adjacent counties—welcomed some 25 million visitors last year.

The Geotourism Program will help to highlight lesser-known attractions in the region, driving visitation to these places and distributing economic benefits to a wider segment of the region’s tourism industry. Using the strength of the National Geographic brand to bring stakeholders together, the program will deliver an interactive online MapGuide populated with places of interest (POIs) identified and described by locals. The MapGuide will help travelers find places most recommended by residents, highlighting the places and people that make the region special.


Major Activities

  • Develop a Geotourism Stewardship Council made up of regional stakeholders who will oversee and help implement the Geotourism process
  • Develop a National Geographic co-branded website to facilitate engagement through marketing and storytelling
  • Collect nominations through locals of all places, attractions and businesses that make this region unique. All participants will receive certificates, window stickers and digital badges from NG and the Stewardship Council highlighting them as a National Geographic Geotourism site to strengthen brand awareness
  • Six-week social media marketing campaign to promote the new Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and National Geographic co-branded website
  • Develop a sustainable business model for the Geotourism Program based on the input of the Geotourism Stewardship Council. It will outline the vision, goals and objectives of the Geotourism Stewardship Council and provide a blueprint for its future operation


Anticipated Results

  • Increased collaboration amount Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area stakeholders through the formation of a Geotourism Stewardship Council
  • A National Geographic co-branded website will showcase the people and places of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
  • Certificate, window sticker and digital badge from National Geographic for all sites, attractions, and businesses on the MapGuide, highlighting them as a National Geographic Geotourism site
  • Certificate, window sticker and digital badge from National Geographic for all sites, attractions, and businesses on the MapGuide, highlighting them as a National Geographic Geotourism site

Website:

Delaware River NatGeo Tourism


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