Here's an obligatory photo of the Mississippi River as seen from lower Cape Rock Park.
At a meeting Wednesday at the Cape Girardeau Public Library, representatives from the National Geographic Society and federal agencies introduced a new tourism website that will feature attractions and businesses along the Mississippi River.
The website targets "geotourism", or those travelers seeking unique and authentic destinations. Of course, that concept fits in nicely with this blog, since I avoid tourist traps like the plague.
A preliminary version of the website is online at mississippiriver.natgeotourism.com, with a formal launch coming early in 2016.
In the meantime, National Geographic is encouraging people to submit "nominations" about local attractions and businesses to populate the website. The main criteria is that attractions must be located in a county that is adjacent to the Mississippi River. The current website has been seeded with attractions that have been posted by early adopters; Perry County, for example, is already well represented.
The nomination process, as described in the meeting, is fairly simple. First, create an account and then complete four sections: description, photos/video, contact info, and mapping data.
Cynics might point out that the whole thing is an easy way for National Geographic to build a website without doing much legwork on their end. The advantage, however, is that the descriptions -- written by locals -- will provide a more authentic guide than would be possible if, say, a team of outsiders wrote everything from an office in Washington, D.C.
Similar websites using the same platform have been launched for other regions of the U.S. and abroad, with Yosemite in California as the first one offered nearly 10 years ago. The Mississippi River project, spanning 10 states, appears to be the most ambitious geotourism website yet.