Vermont ranks among best places for geotourism

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(Host) Vermont recently ranked among the best places in the world for geotourism.

Just what is geotourism and what does this distinction mean for Vermont?

VPR’s Amy Noyes explains:

(Noyes) National Geographic coined the term geotourism’.

Essentially, it means using responsible tourism to help preserve natural landscapes, while drawing visitors to the area.

The National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations ranked Vermont number one in the country when it comes to geotourism.

David Kestenbaum is with the UVM extension service. He’s worked with travel and tourism officials in the Northeast Kingdom and National Geographic to create a geotourism map.

(Kestenbaum) “The purpose of the map is to draw people to local destinations: places that can both cater to and benefit from tourist dollars, and are also part of the local lifestyle – weaving in the experience of living, and the visitor experience together.”

(Noyes) The map highlights about 50 Northeast Kingdom businesses and attractions.

Among them is Willey’s store, a Greensboro landmark. The store has been in Tom Hurst’s family for more than a century.

Hurst hopes the map will help sell some of the hundreds of locally-made items that fill his shelves.

(Hurst) “I’m sure it’s gonna expose our area to lots of good people who are going to be interested in traveling through. And we’ll be looking forward to that opportunity to showcase some of our local – people who make products that we sell. We do try to encourage people to buy local products.”

(Noyes) Another purpose of the map is to help tourists find places off the beaten path.

One of those destinations is the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.

John Broadhead runs the center, which offers outdoor activities from sculling to cross-country skiing.

(Broadhead) “We have over 300 acres here that accommodates a little over one-tenth of our trails. Of course, we’re coming into the cross-country ski season and we’ve got 55 miles of cross-country ski trail. We are fortunate to be in an area where the neighbors appreciate the outdoors and cross-country skiing, as so we’ve got close to 80 landowners, who are our neighbors, who permit us to ski on their property.”

(Noyes) That attitude has helped make the center a ski destination. It now draws everyone from beginner school groups to members of the U.S. Ski Team.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Amy Noyes.

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