International Tourism Agreement Reached
Duluth, Minnesota --- February 14, 2014 --- The Heart of the Continent Partnership (HOCP) is partnering with National Geographic Society (NGS) to create an online regional geo-tourism initiative, highlighting northeastern Minnesota and Ontario, Canada. Representatives and local officials were on hand to launch activities today at an event in Duluth.
The finished results will include an in-depth website and smartphone applications. The site will be linked with existing National Geographic Society geo-tourism sites and the National Geographic Society Maps homepage.
“The National Geographic Maps Division is pleased to have the opportunity to spotlight this region and, in doing so, support and sustain it as one of the world’s most treasured places,” said Jim Dion, Director of Tourism Programs at National Geographic Maps. “The online Geotourism MapGuide will celebrate the abundant and diverse scenic, cultural and historical attributes of the bi-national Heart of the Continent region from the unique vantage point of those who live there.”
Users will be able to create custom travel plans spanning the border based on their interests, and find information about communities, events, attractions and businesses throughout the region. Event organizers and small businesses will be able to add content to the site, which will be overseen by an internationally-represented standards committee, in conjunction with NGS.
“Not only is this geo-tourism website project a terrific example of what can be done when we work together as a bi-national region,” said Doug Franchot, one of the co-chairs of the project, “it will also put the Heart of the Continent on a global stage with one of the best international brands around – National Geographic.”
The Heart of the Continent Partnership has raised over $200,000 for the project, with the involvement of municipalities, economic development agencies, tourism groups, State and Provincial parks, grant foundations, public funders and private firms. The project is one of the largest volunteer collaborations taken on jointly by Minnesota and Ontario, and involves stakeholders from more than 25 agencies on both sides of the border. When it is complete, the group believes the project will ultimately lead to increased tourism in both countries.
Drawing input and involvement from a wide spectrum of local stakeholders, the geo-tourism project will help sustain and enhance the geographical character of the region by highlighting the outstanding natural, cultural and historical resources and historic gateway communities in the Heart of the Continent bi- national region.
The Heart of the Continent Partnership (HOCP) will partner with National Geographic Society (NGS) to create
a regional geotourism initiative, including a map and website. Drawing input and involvement from a wide
spectrum of local stakeholders, this geotourism project will help sustain and enhance the geographical character
of the region—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the wellbeing of its residents—by highlighting the outstanding natural, cultural and historical resources and historic gateway communities in the Heart of
the Continent bi-national region. HOCP will become a part of NGS’s network of interlinked geotourism websites, gaining great visibility, visitorship, and awareness for our region—and its wonderful natural and cultural assets.
This economic development project will use a unified cross-border approach,the established collaborative structure of HOCP, and the brand power of NGS to increase visitation in the region. Outcomes include:
• Paper Map: NGS will publish and promote a paper map of the Heart of the
• Website: An interactive map and website combines the region’s
opportunities is easily accessible and well used by people around the
country and the world.
• Worldwide Exposure: Links between all the NGS geotourism sites will extend
the reach and impact of efforts within the region. Web hits tracked.
• Increased Use: The attractions, parks, and communities promoted on the map and web site will note
increased use. Measured by lodging tax receipts, number of visitors and international flights.
• Increased Community: this collaborative project will build lasting working
relationships among communities and citizens who care about public lands.
• Amplified Impact: This project will amplify, not compete with existing
efforts and budgets of partners.
H O C P M i s s i o n : The Heart of the Continent Partnership seeks to sustain and celebrate the health,
beauty, diversity, and productivity of the natural and cultural resources of the border lakes region through collaboration to meet the needs of present and future generations.