– Geotourism

Geotourism Initiative

NGS Geotourism Map
The area covered by the HOCP Geotourism Initiative

The Heart of the Continent Partnership has partnered with National Geographic Society (NGS) to create a regional geotourism initiative, including an interactive map and website.

[download case statement]

Scroll to bottom for media coverage

We are accepting nominations for places, activities, and businesses to be included in the website. Go to traveltheheart.org and nominate your business, or nominate a special place that needs to be shared. There are instructions about how to register and what to include in a nomination there.


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 well being 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, visitor-ship, and awareness for our region — and its wonderful natural and cultural assets.


What is geotourism?

Geotourism is tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.

Geotourism incorporates the concept of sustainable tourism — that destinations should remain unspoiled for future generations — while allowing for ways to protect a place’s character. Geotourism also takes a principle from its ecotourism cousin, that tourism revenue should promote conservation, and extends it to culture and history as well, that is, all distinctive assets of a place.

What are examples of other places that have geotourism initiatives?

NGS’s Center for Sustainable Destinations has partnered with a host of regions to create a framework for engaging communities and creating a regional geotourism infrastructure in locations across the world. Some examples in the United States include the Four Corners Region, Greater Yellowstone, the Central Cascades and California’s Redwood Coast.  The Crown of the Continent region is another example of trans-boundary geotourism project that encompasses Montana, Alberta and British Columbia that participate in the NGS Geotourism program.

How can I participate?

HOCP Geotourism team members
HOCP Geotourism team members

To get involved, please contact project co-leads:

  • John Cameron, Tourism Development Officer, Tourism Thunder Bay. 807-625-3231. [email protected]
  • Eric Johnson, Outfitter and International Falls/Rainy Lake Convention and Visitor’s Bureau   [email protected]
  • Chris Stromberg, Coordinator HOCP 807-598-1074 [email protected]

HOCP’s geotourism initiative in the news

Atikokan Economic Development gets international award for its work with Heart of the Continent Geotourism Initiative

Minnesota-Ontario Geotourism Alliance Receives Innovation Award

* Almanac North (Duluth MN) – Jim Dion NGS and Frank Jewell HOCP interview

What is Heart of the Continent?  Cross-border collaborative promoting natural, economic health of vast area, from Quetico to Lake Superior, including Ely attractions. “ Ely Echo. 29 Aug 2014.

The Heart of the Continent collaborates with National Geographic Society in North America,” Global Transboundary Conservation Network: July 25, 2014

Net News Ledger – Travel the Heart Web Launch 2015

Fox 21 – Web Launch March 2015 – Jim Dion at Glensheen Mansion

Thunder Bay Newswatch – Web launch 2015 – Paul Pepe

ABC Eyewitness News – Jim Dion National Geographic 

“Geotourism Project in NE Minnesota: the public can get involved in a geotourism project in northeastern Minnesota that is backed by the National Geographic Society,” Almanac North (Duluth, MN): June 27, 2014. Start viewing at 17:43

Atikokan Progress – Heart of the Continent – Stromberg interview

The Entry Point – FBWW blog 

“Heart of the Continent and National Geographic: Important Opportunity For Your Business,” International Falls Chamber Email: June 2014.

Bi-National Tourism on Heart of the Continent Agenda,” Net News Ledger (Thunder Bay), May 28, 2014.

“Submit Your Nominations – What’s so special about your place?” Hibbing Area Chamber Weekly Bulletin: May 28, 2014

Nominate Special Places for National Geographic Guide to the Heart of the Continent Region,” Wilderness News Online, May 15, 2014.

Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Ontario launch geotourism project for the Heart of the Continent,” The Ranger, IRRRB (Eveleth), May 14, 2014

Geotourism in BWCA, Lake Superior, Superior National Forest,” Cook County Blog, Kratt Chatter, May 14, 2014

Groups seek nominations for geotourism map,” The Journal (International Falls), May 10, 2014

Heart of the Continent geotourism project to be launched,” Hometown Focus (Virginia), 25 April 2014.

Heart of the Continent Map Being Developed,” The Lake 89.5 (Kenora), 24 April 2014.

Heart of the Continent Seeks Tourism Areas to Promote”  CFOB Radio (Ft. Frances), 23 April 2014.

Partnership with National Geographic,” Mesabi Daily News, 23 April 2014.

Tourism website needs input on Northwestern Ontario Attractions,” CBC News (Thunder Bay), 24 April 2014.

Frank Jewell receives award for dedication to the Heart of the Continent Partnership,” Lake County News Chronicle, 28 March 2014.

“Iron Range well represented at Heart of the Continent Meeting,” Hibbing Daily Tribune 9 March 2014

Ontario and Northern Minnesota officials are touting a “geotourism” partnership with the National Geographic Society.” WDSE Public TV (Duluth), Almanac North, 28 February 2014.  Frank Jewell and Jim Dion NGS are interviewed.

The Continental Heart,” The Source (Thunder Bay) 21 February 2014

International Tourism Agreement Reached: Heart of the Continent, National Geographic launch online portal,” Atikokan (Ont.) Progress, 18 February 2014.

Promoting Geotourism on both Sides of the Border,” St. Louis County Newsletter, 14 February 2014.

Tourism Partners,” TB Newswatch 14 February 2014.

Lake Superior Travel – International Tourism Agreement Reached February 14

Geotourism Initiative Agreement for Northeast Minnesota,” KDAL (Duluth), 13 February 2014

International Tourism Agreement Reached,” The Journal (International Falls), 13 February 2014.

Wolf Ridge to Partner with National Geographic,” Lake County News Chronicle, 27 December 2013

International tourism group teams up with National Geographic,” CBC News, Thunder Bay, 12 November 2013. Audio/CBC Radio link.

International Falls Joining Forces with Canada for regional tourism,” Minnesota Public Radio, 29 October 2013

International Falls wants to capitialize on old foe, Voyageurs National Park,”  Minnesota Public Radio, 24 October 2013.

Heart of the Continent ‘geotourism’ project under way,” Cook County News Herald, 28 September 2013 p.B9

Heart of the Continent Partnership Works to Promote Canadian-American Border Lakes Region,” WTIP (Grand Marais) 24 September 2013. Interview with Frank Jewell.

“Heart of the Continent Partnering with National Geographic,” Net News Ledger (Thunder Bay), September 21, 2013.

HOCP nears launch of geotourism partnership with NGS,” The Journal (International Falls), 17 September 2013.

“Marketing area as a whole is key: Speakers,” Fort Frances Times, September 11, 2013.

Leaders Tout Border Collaboration,” The Journal (International Falls), 10 September 2013.

“Town to back National Geographic project for Heart of the Continent,” Atikokan (Ont.) Progress,  13 August 2013

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