|Jonathan B. Tourtellot, National Geographic Fellow; Founding Director, National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations; and Geotourism Editor, National Geographic Traveler
Jonathan Tourtellot specializes in sustainable tourism and destination stewardship. He is also a journalist, editor, and sometime photographer, with a focus on travel, geography, and science. Motivated by his desire to encourage protection of distinctive places, Tourtellot originated the concept 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.” He helped the U.S. Travel Association develop the 2002 study Geotourism: The New Trend in Travel, a landmark survey of American traveler behavior and attitudes about issues of sustainability.
Tourtellot launched and ran the National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations (CSD) for nine years, devoted to an economic development approach that incentivizes protection of natural and cultural heritage. He initiated and supervised the Destination Stewardship surveys reported 2004-2010 as the cover story in National Geographic Traveler magazine’s November/ December issue. As geotourism editor for Traveler, he has written on such topics as green tourism, resort sprawl, climate change, nature tourism, heritage travel, and tourism’s relation to places, including “The Two Faces of Tourism” and “The Tourism Wars,” both winners of the Lowell Thomas award.
Tourtellot instituted National Geographic’s Geotourism MapGuide program, unique in that it invites full participation by destination residents and so raises awareness of distinctive local assets. Tourtellot has addressed numerous national and international groups, including the U.N. World Tourism Organization, UNESCO, and the World Travel and Tourism Council. Last year, he wrote the cover survey article, “Tourism: Part Threat, Part Hope,” for UNESCO’s World Heritage Nov./Feb. magazine issue on sustainable tourism.