Archive for nature tourism

Geocaching goes touristy

I’m not sure if I have posted about geocaching before, and I realize geocaching may be on the fringe of nature travel, but it’s great fun and a unique way to explore trails. People who are familiar with this high-tech treasure hunt done with a GPS device know the slogan “Cache in, trash out,” so good geocachers do indeed help the environment.

I just happened to come across this brochure by the Charlotte Harbor and Gulf Islands tourism development council that promotes geocaching — but not in just any old way. Tourism businesses got together to put goodies in official tourism board geocaches to get travelers out and exploring the county. I haven’t seen another tourism board do this before, so this is innovative.

Does this mean geocaching has gone mainstream?

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Wildlife refuges are good for economy

Our national wildlife refuges are important to the economy, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Study has shown again this year, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. Because of St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge alone (a goody), $23.6 million was generated, along with 346 jobs. Florida has many more national wildlife refuges than just that one, so it’s apparent that conserving land makes economic sense. As the article points out, though, refuges also just enrich our lives aside from the money factor.

You can find the whole report Banking on Nature 2006: The Economic Benefits to Local Communities of National Wildlife Refuge Visitation here.

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Florida state parks contribute big bucks and jobs to economy

Every year, I think, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection reminds everyone how nature-based recreation is important to our state’s economy. Yesterday, the DEP said Florida’s state parks contributed more than $936M to local communities, creating 18,700 jobs.

That’s just the state parks. That doesn’t include national parks, or state or national forests, or national wildlife refuges, or other natural lands.

It’s important to frequently look at how nature tourism contributes to the economy, because if you don’t, then you get people saying, “Oh, it’s just a few people out there looking at birds — how does that help anybody?”

Something interesting to me about this year’s news from the DEP is the list of top-generating state parks. In the past, if I’m not mistaken, it’s always been John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo. Now, the list looks like this (taken from the DEP news release):

St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach: $43M

Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin: $42M

John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo: $38.M

Lovers Key State Park in Fort Myers Beach: $37.8M

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne: $35.5M

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“Last chance!” “Buy now!”

Speaking of strange things (see today’s previous post), I got an e-mail from Visit Florida — the state’s tourism board. The subject line is “Last Chance to Get to Know Florida’s Natural Attractions.”

Really? It’s my last chance? Why — are Florida’s “natural attractions” going away? Are they going to close?

I opened the message and didn’t find any clue whatsoever what the subject line was talking about. It makes me wonder if the Visit Florida folks who put out the message have visited the places they are writing about. And even if they have, why are they using a strong-armed marketing tactic like the phrase “last chance” — which is supposedly used to jolt customers into action — to promote Florida’s natural beauty? This is really a turn-off to me, and it’s a silly, incongruous method to get people outside.

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Ecotourism spot proposed in busy central Florida tourism area

If you’ve been in the Disney area, it’s very possible you’ve crossed over what could soon be a new ecotourism destination: Shingle Creek. The proposed Shingle Creek Recreation Preserve is the buzz in Osceola County, where $4M was spent to preserve property, an Orlando Sentinel article reports. Still, it could be years before the plans become reality: hiking trails, paddling, camping, an education center and more right in the midst of other busy tourism attractions. Not bad for a little body of water that’s part of the system of headwaters of the Everglades, huh?

Photo from South Florida Water Management District

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Florida nature tourism continues to grow

I keep saying it, and I’ll say it again: Nature travel in Florida is growing. A Bradenton Herald article is the latest to confirm it, saying, “Nearly 60 percent of the 84 million tourists who come to Florida yearly said they have sampled some of Florida’s natural wonders during their stay,” a state tourism board statistic. The article highlights a couple of nature-based tourism businesses that have grown.

 If you’re not aware, I wrote a book called 30 Eco-Trips in Florida, which came out a couple years ago. It mostly details places around the state that are great for nature tourism, but it also goes into the economics of nature travel.

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