Arizona Office of Tourism Launches National Geographic Arizona-Sonora Desert Region Geotourism MapGuide

PHOENIX, April 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) is pleased to announce the release of the National Geographic Arizona-Sonora Desert Region Geotourism MapGuide.

The Arizona-Sonora Region Geotourism MapGuide is the first bi-national geotourism initiative that National Geographic has undertaken, with the map focusing on the Sonoran Desert that encompasses southern Arizona and the northern Mexico state of Sonora. The guide promotes visitor experiences following the principles of geotourism, defined as, "tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place -- its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents." The guide is the result of an innovative partnership between National Geographic, the Arizona and Sonora offices of tourism, the Bureau of Land Management, the Sonoran Institute and the Arizona-Mexico Commission.

Community input was essential to the creation of the MapGuide, and residents of the region, were asked to nominate their favorite geotourism places and events in the area for inclusion. Entries that best supported the Sonoran Desert's character of place and reflected visitor interests from historic landmarks and natural attractions to music venues and restaurants, were included on the guide.

"While the MapGuide is a wonderful tool for planning a great vacation, it also serves as an opportunity to showcase 85 of Arizona's unique geotourism locations and highlights the importance of sustaining the environment, culture and heritage of the area," said Margie A. Emmermann, Director of the Arizona Office of Tourism. "We are thrilled that National Geographic saw the importance of highlighting the geotourism assets in the Sonoran Desert and we appreciate the tremendous support that Arizona's residents and tourism industry have given this project."

The MapGuide is the first step in AOT's plans to promote geotourism. AOT is launching a campaign Arizona Origins, an interactive Web site that highlights many of the geotourism sites not incorporated on the hard copy of the guide. The new Arizona Origins site is accessible from AOT's consumer Web site at To ensure broad application of geotourism concepts throughout the state, AOT has also developed educational workshops to help educate communities in Arizona on the principles and values of geotourism that will help them better market their assets.

A limited amount of National Geographic Arizona-Sonora Desert Region Geotourism MapGuides will be available at visitors centers throughout southern Arizona, and anyone can order a copy online at

CONTACT: Kiva Couchon of Arizona Office of Tourism, +1-602-364-3724, or Email Contact.

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