County and regional vacation and tourism bureaus U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's refuges (visitation data and some expenditure data) Tourism Policy Council, U.S. Department of Commerce
Community tourism promoters need to evaluate natural resources in an area and find what is special locally, and market those special resources. A community must have a plan to protect their resources before they use them, or risk destruction of the resources which attract tourists. For example, some counties and other jurisdictions in the western United States have found it beneficial to protect recreation and wildlife lands using tax dollars to enhance the quality of life and promote nature tourism in fast-growing places such as Jefferson and Boulder Counties, Colorado; Kings County (Seattle), Washington; and Flagstaff, Arizona. Community tourism promotion activities have been successful that specifically attract certain types of recreation users -- birdwatchers, for example -- by printing guides with suggestions for finding species, maps of the area, and lodging/food establishments. Birdwatching festivals have increased dramatically in the last decade across the country, capitalizing on local species and phenomena (e.g., crane migration in Nebraska, shorebird migration on the coasts, and songbirds throughout the country). Many coastal communities on both coasts and Alaska and Hawaii have promoted tourism based on marine (whales/mammals, sea birds) and shoreline (e.g., shorebirds and scenery) resources.
Some Examples of Natural Resources That Attract Nature Tourists
An old-growth or other healthy forest A marsh, swamp, or bog A scenic river or other corridor trail A mountain landscape with trails A cave that can be opened to visitors High biodiversity, particularly birds Open space and other parks Healthy grassland or prairie Geologic features Whitewater for boating and related recreation Whales and other large mammals
The Potential Pitfalls of Nature Tourism and How to Avoid Them