Northern Michigan University’s outdoor recreation leadership management program will explore sustainable eco-tourism in Alger County. It has received a grant designed to support innovative economic development strategies that may yield entrepreneurship, job creation and economic innovation in distressed regions of Michigan. The $8,000 grant was awarded by the Michigan State University EDA Center for Regional Economic Innovation, with funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Professors Scott Jordan and David Kronk from the NMU School of Health and Human Performance will examine the existing nature-based tourism in Alger County to determine current and projected sustainability issues, problems and possible solutions. They will also investigate how the creation of a Sustainable Eco-tourism Alliance Organization (SEAO) for Alger County could provide economic benefits.
“Sustainable eco-tourism is a fast-growing movement worldwide,” said Jordan. “It is an extension of nature-based tourism that focuses on conserving the local environment and improving the well-being of local residents.”
Jordan and Kronk plan to begin meeting soon with community leaders, business owners and Alger County residents to explore existing tourism concerns and potential solutions for those concerns. They said directing eco-tourism toward local needs, interests and resource limits can greatly enhance tourism’s value to a community and help create a sustainable industry.
“Creating a truly sustainable local tourism industry is not a daunting task, but making tourism really ‘fit’ the community requires work,” Kronk said. “Creating a successful and sustainable eco-tourism industry is like creating any successful and sustainable economic activity. It takes vision, planning and effort.”
It is hoped that the findings from the Alger County project may also be used to promote a richer variety of sustainable eco-tourism activities in other locations throughout Michigan, resulting in additional economic opportunities and jobs for innovative ecotourism providers statewide.
Grant Supports Alger County Eco-Tourism Study