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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

GeoMontreal Wants Destination Ideas for Ethical Tourism Map.

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Got a Montreal secret that you’re bursting to let out? Now is your chance to get it onto an international tourism map. GeoMontréal is soliciting destinations and experiences that represent authentic Montreal culture and environment to be included in the city’s upcoming Geotourism MapGuide.

Geotourism, an idea developped by the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations, aims to promote “tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.

The Geotourism Charter (PDF) charter outlines 13 principles to promote tourism that is ethical, ecologically sustainable, culturally sensitive, and directly beneficial to the community. Always eager for an international title, the Greater Montreal area, represented by the City, as well as Héritage Montreal and Tourism Montreal, signed on in 2007, becoming the first and only city to adopt geotourism principles. Other signatories include Guatemala, Hondouras, Peru, Norway and Romania, as well as several geographcial regions like the Sonora desert and Appalachian mountains.

Indeed, the Center’s Geotourism seems better suited to protecting small indigenous villages or fragile natural ecosystems from being overrun by tourist resorts than to promoting tourism in a metropolitan area. For instance, one principle emphasizes that tourism practices support small businesses and bring “economic and social benefits to involved communities, especially poverty alleviation, with clear communication of the destination stewardship policies required to maintain those benefits.” Another principle requires signatories to protect natural habitats, heritage sites, and local culture by keeping volumes of tourists within maximum acceptable limits.

While these are desirable goals, there are no signs that Montreal’s flirtation with geotouristm will interrupt the stream of drunken American frat-boys that seem to be a pillar of our economy (or perhaps underage drinking would qualify as part of our local cultural heritage?). The website for GeoMontreal, the organization dedicated to overseeing the project, focuses entirely on the map-making exercise, with no mention of how the 13 charter principles are to be applied.

Skepticism aside, the existing Geotourism maps are beautifully designed by National Geographic and they do appear to highlight some worthwhile destinations. For examples, check out the one for the Arizona/Sonora desert region (pdf) or the Crown of the Continent region (pdf), which spans Alberta, BC and Montana.

I am certainly curious to see what Montreal produces.

You can submit your ideas by filling out the on-line forum here before Januay 15th. The organization is collecting destination or activities such as:

  •     – Food and drink, including local agricultural products and methods, restaurants serving local dishes
  •     – Agritourism, including traditional farming or farmers’ markets
  •     – Performing arts: music, dance, theatre, including public and bar or restaurant performances
  •     – Arts and crafts, including artisan centers, workshops, or no franchise local shopping
  •     – Festivals and distinctive ways of celebrating national holidays or ethnic traditions
  •     – Special events or places particular to your borough
  •     – Distinctive wildlife habitat, on land or in the water
  •     – Notable birds, trees, and flowers, forests, rivers, waterfalls
  •     – Links between local nature and local culture—history, cuisine, events
  •     – Canoeing, hiking, bike tours, and any other outdoor activities
  •     – Historic main streets or districts
  •     – Homesteads or plantations, especially those offering guided tours or other forms of interpretation
  •     – Buildings exhibiting traditional architecture
  •     – Religious heritage


One comment

  1. they (NGS) will make the money selling ads and montreal’s secret spots are secret no more?
    No thanks!

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