Supporting Global Development through Sustainable Tourism

Verde Valley Geotourism Program


Increase the value and importance of the river as a vital economic asset

  • Client:
    • Walton Family Foundation’s Fresh Water Initiative
    • Local municipalities
    • Yavapai County
    • the State of Arizona
    • the U.S. Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and/or Transportation
  • Partners: The National Geographic Society Maps Division 
  • Project Duration: November 2014 – January 2016

Project overview:

As one of Arizona’s last perennial rivers, the Verde River is one of the state’s most unique and threatened natural resources. Its watershed and riparian habitats are critical local ecology for human, animal, and plant life. To preserve and restore this valuable resource, Solimar International and the National Geographic Society Maps Division are implementing a sustainable destination program in the Verde Valley region. As tourism is one of the largest industries in Arizona, it is imperative to grow the industry responsibly.

Major Activities

  • Designate and provide support to a Verde Valley Stewardship Council which would serve as the local counterpart and oversee a number of program components. As proposed, the Friends of the Verde River Greenway (FVRG) would assume that role.
  • Develop a Vision, Strategy, and Action Plans for Sustainable Tourism Development to be achieved through participatory planning and broad-based public engagement.
  • Create a Destination Marketing and Branding Strategy.  This strategy will be centered on sustainable tourism, river conservation, and the unique culture, nature and history of the region, in close collaboration with the Sedona Verde Valley Tourism Council (SVVTC).
  • Develop and help implement an SVVTC Organizational Strategy, Business Plan, and Funding Strategy for ongoing marketing and promotion.
  • Develop a National Geographic Society (NGS) Co-Branded Online Interactive MapGuide. The process to develop the mapguide will serve as a catalyst for public engagement for tourism development and river conservation, help generate awareness of and interest in visits to the region, and create powerful tools for the promotion of the Verde Valley as a premier sustainable tourism destination.
  • Produce, for resale, a printed Destination Map of the Verde Valley that will serve as an important promotional and informational tool for those less digitally inclined, and as a potential recurring revenue stream for ongoing destination marketing and conservation efforts.

Anticipated results:

  • Increase the value and importance of the river as a vital economic asset
  • Engage the wider Verde Valley community in conservation and sustainable tourism development efforts
  • Raise awareness of and celebrate the river—and the local culture, wine, food, history, archeology, etc., that make Verde Valley a unique and interesting place
  • Attract visitors who will appreciate the unique “sense of place” and can make major contributions to the well being of the river and local residents through their spending on tourism services

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