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

Programs for Places

The Center for Sustainable Destinations (CSD) seeks to help individual places to use the geotourism approach to improve stewardship and attract the most beneficial and least disruptive forms of tourism.

What We Do


In this Resource Directory for Communities CSD provides links that could help you build alliances for better destination stewardship.

Geotourism Charter

Governments and partner organizations can sign this statement of principles (PDF) as a first step in adopting a geotourism strategy.

Geotourism Strategy

CSD can provide information to help destination stakeholders develop a strategy (PDF) that 1) identifies, 2) sustains, 3) develops, and 4) markets the geotourism assets unique to the locale.

Geotourism MapGuides

CSD affiliates and National Geographic representatives will work with a community-based local geotourism alliance to create a co-branded National Geographic map that highlights the natural, historic, and cultural assets unique to a destination. Read "How to develop a Geotourism MapGuide (PDF)."

Where We Do It

Photo: Cook Mountain

Lakes to Locks Passage

Lakes to Locks Passage is a public-private partnership designed to establish New York's interconnected waterway of Lake Champlain, Lake George, the Champlain Canal and Hudson River as a premiere destination for national and international travelers. Designated as an All-American Road by the Federal Highway Administration, this geotourism project, launched in 2011, is designed to foster community pride and a commitment to stewardship of the region's historic, natural, cultural and recreational resources. Through an authentic, place-based tourism experience, travelers experience "The Great Northeast Journey, Guided by Locals." The partnership has developed a plan for implementation that has three strategic goals:

  • establish a unified regional identity along the waterway,
  • deliver an authentic, place-based, multi-modal visitor experience, and
  • market the co-branded regional destination to national and international audiences



Four Corners Region

This collaborative partnership of four states, tribes, the Forest Service, BLM (U.S. Bureau of Land Management), Scenic Byways, Preserve America, individuals, and state and local tourism offices launched in July 2010. The first of four phases for this area of the American Southwest involves public meetings in local communities. In these geotourism forums, people can nominate historical events, traditions, distinctive businesses, and natural sites. A project advocate, Susan Thomas, coordinator of the Colorado portion of the Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway, says that having a local resident's perspective will give visitors a unique experience.

Photo: Northern California coast

California’s Redwood Coast

A community-based nomination process captured the highlights in coastal living and the rugged beauty of the North California Coast to create a National Geographic Geotourism MapGuide for the region. Stretching from West Marin to Del Norte counties, the area includes both private and public lands. Read the press release for the March 11, 2010 for the project rollout (PDF).


Photo: Portugal's Douro Valley

Portugal’s Douro Valley

building a strategic business plan for the region to strengthen sustainable tourism practices. The highlights of the many tourist attractions in the region are UNESCO World Heritage sites. The project will enhance economic vitality, develop local geotourism-based businesses and opportunities, and preserve the natural and cultural heritage of this unique area, noted for its terraced port wine vineyards. The region is a Geotourism Charter signatory since December 2009

Photo: Sierra Nevada region

Sierra Nevada

National Geographic Society has partnered with the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and Sierra Business Council to capture the history and nature of the Sierra Nevada Region in order to create an interactive Web site and print map. Lassen National Park, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are jewels in this 400-mile-long region. The project Web site collects worthy nominations by locals to be included in the mapguide.

Read the Press Release (PDF).


Photo: Mount Hood

Central Cascades

The Central Cascades Stewardship Council partnered with CSD to create a MapGuide capturing the spectacular beauty and abundant recreational opportunities of the Central Cascades. These world-class natural attractions span Oregon and Washington states. Read the Press Release (PDF).


Photo: Appalachian trail

Appalachian Geotourism MapGuide

CSD partnered with the Appalachian Regional Commission and the people of Appalachia to create the first Geotourism MapGuide, published in the April 2005 National Geographic Traveler magazine. NGS also produced an online version.

Photo: Saguaro cactus in Arizona


In an alliance with the Sonoran Institute, CSD has helped the region's communities to create the first transborder Geotourism MapGuide, for southern Arizona, U.S.A., and northern Sonora, Mexico.

View MapGuide in English (PDF)

View MapGuide in Spanish (PDF)


Photo: Baja mountains

Baja California

Partnering with Lindblad Expeditions, Fondo Mexicano Para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza, and local communities, CSD has completed a MapGuide for the Mexican states of Baja California and Baja California Sur.

View MapGuide (PDF)

Photo: View of Glacier National Park

Crown of the Continent

Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, have teamed up with Montana, U.S.A., to launch a transboundary geotourism program for the region centered on the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Read the Press Release (PDF)

View MapGuide (PDF)


Photo: Buffalo grazing

Greater Yellowstone

National Geographic and the Greater Yellowstone community have created a new Geotourism MapGuide on which local citizens and experts showcase the region's natural, historic, and cultural assets.


Photo: Mayan mask


In a ceremony presided by President Oscar Berger, Guatemala signed the Geotourism Charter in April 2007, launching a program to create a community-based national Geotourism Stewardship Council, a Geotourism MapGuide, and other elements. Read the Press Release (PDF).


Photo: Dancers in Honduras


In the world's first country to sign the Geotourism Charter (PDF), CSD is supplying a Geotourism for Communities booklet in Spanish (PDF). Read News.

Read Traveler Magazine's Geotourism Opportunities in Honduras

Photo: Montreal at night


The first city in the world to sign the Geotourism Charter, this urban center adheres to the 13 principles of geotourism.

Read the Press Release in English (PDF)
Read the Press Release in French (PDF)

Montreal unveiled the first urban MapGuide in June 2009. Residents chose the places, attractions, activities, events, local businesses and experiences that best represent Montreal's distinctive character for a National Geographic MapGuide.

Montreal MapGuide Press Release in English (PDF)
Montreal MapGuide Press Release in French (PDF)


Photo: Norwegian fjord


Innovation Norway signed the Geotourism Charter (PDF) on August 31, 2005, making Norway the first European country to adopt a national geotourism platform. Read the Press Release (PDF).

Read Traveler Magazine's Geotourism Opportunities in Norway

Photo: Ruins in Peru


CSD is working with Peruvian authorities and the World Bank on tourism aspects of a project for rehabilitating the valley of the Rio Vilcanota from Machu Picchu almost to Cuzco, an area that includes the "Sacred Valley." A MapGuide for the region is in the works.


Photo: The Breakers

Rhode Island

Governor Donald Carcieri signed the Geotourism Charter in May 2007, demonstrating the state's commitment to exemplary destination stewardship. The Rhode Island Geotourism Collaborative, a new multi-sector task force, will hold a statewide series of workshops. Read the Press Release.


Photo: Village of Biertan, Romania


Romania signed the Geotourism Charter in 2005. Transylvania's beautiful Brasov County will be the first to launch geotourism project.


Read Traveler Magazine's Geotourism Opportunities in Romania

Photo: Schoolhouse in Vermont


CSD and the Northeast Kingdom Geotourism Alliance have completed a MapGuide of the most rural and, some say, authentic corner of Vermont. View "Geotourism Grows in Vermont" (PDF).

View MapGuide (PDF)



Photograph by Peter Marbach (Mount Hood)