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Nature Tourism > Why Nature Tourism: Benefits > Case Study -Coulee Corridor

Case Studies: The Coulee Corridor Nature Tourism Success Story

The idea of visiting and experiencing high quality natural environments and also protecting them from harmful impacts is now an acceptable and marketable one. As a result, nature tourism is among the travel industry’s highest growth areas.

Communities wishing to plan and/or develop nature-based tourism are confronted with a number of challenges.

First, the locality should possess abundant and/or a unique mix of natural, recreational and cultural attractions and activities (marketing magnets).

Second, a tourist support and infrastructure (hotels, restaurants) system should exist or be developed.

Third, information concerning the attractions and activities (marketing magnets) of the area must be developed for both advertisement and guidance. Information concerning the assets of the area should be directed at increasing resource awareness among local residents, attracting tourists from outside of the community and aiding tourists in locating and enjoying particular sites and resources.

Last, materials and personnel offering assistance in interpreting the ecological value of the area should be available. Most nature tourists are seeking a "high quality experience" which includes information about local natural and cultural resources.

Coulee Country in Central Washington is one area where a group of communities has pursued a vision of expanding a new mix of nature tourism. This project area roughly stretching from Othello to Grand Coulee is blessed with an abundance of ecologically and culturally valuable resources as well as a substantial tourist support infrastructure. All of the ingredients exist in these communities and on the adjacent public lands to attract a new kind of visitor interested in real places with stories linking the past and present, an area rich in natural scenery and wildlife diversity. However, the communities seemed to lack a cohesive, comprehensive strategy to develop a well thought-out large-scale tourism plan for the area. That is until a Scenic Byway grant and planning process came along to serve as the catalyst to bring representatives of ten towns, two counties, multiple state, federal, tribal agencies and conservation nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to the planning table. The following are some of the major of steps taken in this community planning effort that are leading to the development of a sustainable, long-term nature tourism plan:

  • Conduct public meetings
  • Organize a steering committee
  • Inventory community resources & attractions
  • Map the community
  • Establish a formal Coulee Corridor Planning Committee
  • Develop a "community vision/ future condition"
  • Share the vision
  • Conduct "familiarization" tours for key constituents
  • Draft a community plan with ranked projects
  • Draft a work/project plan with prioritized projects
  • Obtain necessary training and leadership skills
  • Obtain funding for a priority project
  • Continue the vision sharing
  • Create and distribute a information which details the ecological assets and features along Coulee Corridor

For more information on this community effort check out the following:




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