National Geographic - Center for Sustainable Destinations: Working to protect the worlds distinctive places through wisely managed tourism and enlightened destination stewardship.

For Communities

Programs for Places
Photo: Resort in Mexico

Riverside lodge in Batopilas, Mexico.

Photograph by Jonathan Tourtellot

Gateway Community Toolkit for towns next door to national parks

Tourism can contribute to preserving your locale-or to degrading it. These links can help your community plan constructively.


Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf

Certification program for making golf courses eco-friendly. The site offers case studies, surveys, research on golf and the environment, and more.

Community Tourism Assessment Handbook

An online nine-step guide designed to help determine whether tourism development is right for a given community. Published by the Western Rural Development Center, Montana State University Extention.

Earth Island Institute

An environmental advocacy group of more than 30 activist grassroots projects worldwide.

Namibia Community-Based Tourism Association (NACOBTA)

The association helps communities to develop tourism enterprises in Namibia. The simple but useful site lists community projects in this developing country by region.

National Trust for Historic Preservation Library, University of Maryland

Useful links provide help for preserving your community's culture and heritage. Monthly features address topics such as preserving historic theaters and New Urbanism—creating walkable cities and towns.

Overseas Development Institute

This British think tank provides a paper on how tourism can be used for poverty alleviation in developing countries.

Tourism Concern

A British-based site critiquing tourism impacts on communities and the environment. Provides news, articles, statistics, codes, cross-links to other sites and forums. Rich but roughly organized content.


Conservation International (CI)

Gives information on community ecotourism projects and initiatives for fostering partnerships between communities and the travel business, mainly in tropical biodiversity hotspots. RARE Center for Tropical Conservation This nonprofit conservation agency runs ecotourism and community development programs in tropical regions, including nature-guide training for local residents. The site gives more details on their programs.

The Nature Conservancy

This conservation group works with communities in the U.S. and abroad to develop ecotourism programs, including market research, guide training, enterprise development, and business partnerships. (Also in Spanish.)

Culture and Heritage

Genographic Legacy Fund

Indigenous groups can apply for grants from National Geographic's Genographic Legacy Fund, which aims to empower indigenous and traditional peoples on a local level, including management of tourism. The Genographic Project, a partnership between National Geographic and IBM, researches the genetic diversity of humanity by learning about ancient migratory paths our ancestors took to populate the planet. Proceeds from public sales of Genographic kits support the Legacy Fund.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

This U.S. organization offers various programs, including the Main Street Center, which works with communities to revitalize their historic or traditional commercial areas, and the Heritage Tourism Program, which provides information on how heritage tourism can help an area and how an individual or community can get involved with heritage tourism. For the Historic Hotels program see

Destination Appeal

The Conservation Fund

Helps U.S. communities buy and protect ecologically or culturally significant land and water areas through community initiatives and leadership training. Its several programs include the American Greenways Program and the Civil War Battlefield Campaign.

Partners for Livable Communities

A nonprofit organization that works for economic and cultural revitalization of U.S. communities.

Project for Public Spaces

Offers products and services helping communities in the U.S. and abroad to create successful public places from parks and waterfronts to plazas, buildings, and streets.

Scenic America

Provides U.S. communities with information and assistance in preserving scenic character.

Sprawl Watch

A comprehensive clearinghouse of resources on smart growth and sprawl control. Includes "Best Practices" and "What You Can Do" sections.


American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy

Offers a user's guide to green transportation and articles on the how's and why's of buying green. For $8.95, you can consult an online or printed catalog of environmentally friendly cars and trucks.

Northeast Sustainable Energy Association

This U.S. organization provides information on ecofriendly cars and trucks, plus strategies for reducing the environmental impacts of transportation.