Following a visit to the Abaco Chamber of Commerce in March regarding the Small and Medium Size Enterprises Development Bill (SMEDA), Tonya Cargill- Adderley, principal of Contact Excellence Consulting, returned to Abaco on Nov.1.
Cargill-Adderley was accompanied by Maria Lucia Prinz, a National Geographic representative, for a presentation at the Office of the Prime Minister in the Government Complex. This time the focus was on The Bahamas Geotourism Out Islands Program for National Geographic’s Interactive MapGuide.
The Bahamas is leading the pack as the first country in the region to have a NatGeo Geotourism Website, and the program is only being offered to the Out Islands.
Cargill-Adderley reminded the audience that SMEDA ensures that small businesses receive support through several components that have legislative, funding and partnership ties. Turning the presentation over to Prinz, a definition for Geotourism was given.
“Tourism that sustains or enhances the geographic character of a place, its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents,” she supplied. “Geotourism encompasses a range of travel including culture and heritage, history, food, nature, the outdoors, water, music and arts.”
On the partnership note, locals have the opportunity to nominate Bahamian businesses and attractions between Sept.15 to Dec. 15 at:http://www.bahamasgeotourism.com. During the development process, Prinz will organize a Geotourism Council comprised of community leaders, historians, environmentalists, business owners, musicians and artists to oversee the project. The role of the Geotourism Council is to encourage the community to participate in the nomination process and to ensure that diversity of the region is reflected.
There are two types of nominations: attractions and businesses.
For attractions, all residents can share what is unique about their destination and include photos or video to enhance their content. For businesses, someone who is associated with the business or designated as a representative of the business, can add content about the businesses’ products and services.
Nominations can be about a place, natural area, a local or family-owned business and distinctive wildlife habitats, so that viewers can access contact related to eco-heritage, natural and historic sites, culture, bonefishing locations, blue holes, etc.
Users must create an account to participate in nominations, and to add content to the Website. Fully funded by National Geographic, the nominations for the Geotourism provides The Bahamas with free marketing to approximately 50 million people.
For businesses, they receive information that shows the location of their visitors, so they can focus on that market. According to Prinz, some sites have received as much as 40,000 hits in a two to three-week period.
Ahead of the pack, Wynsome Ferguson of the Abaco Tourist Office and Kaderin Mills from the Bahamas National Trust told Prinz that they had already identified 59 sites on Abaco, and had narrowed their points of interests down to 20 sites, which they have named the Abaco Discovery Trail. Prinz was encouraged by the women’s initiative , adding that NatGeo is looking for volunteers/editors to fact check content and to assist those who are not computer savvy.
Other participants included: Glen Kelly; Keith Bishop; Anita Knowles; Administrator Preston Cunningham; Marvin Russell; Dwayne Wallas; Stephen Kappeler; Ann Albury; and Leazona Richard.