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Gulf Guardian Award 2019: Gulf Coast National Heritage Area Nature Based Tourism Plan

Supporting Nature Based Tourism in the Mississippi
Gulf Coast Natural Heritage Area spanning the six coastal counties of the Mississippi
Gulf Coast, the area is home to rich culture, natural beauty, and history. The region offers many opportunities to enjoy
outdoor activities, like hiking, paddling, and wildlife viewing. In 2015, community members approached the
Mississippi Department of Marine Resources to establish the region as a premier nature-based
tourist destination. The Department worked with Allen Engineering
and Science to develop the first-ever Nature Based Tourism Plan for Coastal Mississippi
during a year-long community engagement process. A series of workshops brought together state
and local leaders, environmental groups, land trusts, universities, and local recreation
businesses. The goal was to ensure the plan reflected
everyone’s interests. The 10-year plan paved the way for several
initiatives, like the Gulf Coast Outpost program, which recognizes local nature-based tourism
businesses; A Blueways Design Guide, to mark waterways safe for paddling sports, and a
growth in agritourism businesses. The Nature Based Tourism Plan for Coastal
Mississippi serves as a model for other parts of the state. Congratulations to the Mississippi Department
of Marine Resources and Allen Engineering and Science, the third place Gulf Guardian
award winners in the partnerships category

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