From bald cypress to horseshoe crabs, Delaware's natural wonders are gaining increasing recognition from "ecotourists" thanks to Delaware Eco-Discoveries, the award-winning guide to the state's nature-based tourism attractions. More than 100,000 copies of the first two editions of the guide have been distributed. The 1998 edition is now in development, and businesses and organizations have until April 10 to submit their information about upcoming nature-related events and activities.
"Ecotourism is on the rise in the United States, as more and more people 'get back to nature' through bird-watching, canoeing, and other activities," says Jim Falk, marine recreation and tourism specialist for the University of Delaware Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service. "Delaware has a lot to offer the nature-based traveler. However, visitors need to know where to go, how to get there, and what to do when they arrive at their Delaware destination. The goal of the guidebook is to provide specific information on events, sites of interest, businesses who provide services, and other information useful to nature-minded visitors."
In a survey conducted last year, Falk discovered that two-thirds of the guide's readers found the publication "very useful," with about 68% indicating they vacationed in Delaware. Fifty-four percent of the respondents were college graduates, and 53% had household incomes of about $50,000.
"Our results parallel other studies of nature-based travelers," Falk says. "We found that the folks who read our guide travel extensively and especially enjoy visiting historical and cultural attractions. These visitors tend to help the local economy without harming the environment," he notes.
Delaware Eco-Discoveries is part of an ongoing project to develop a coordinated nature-based tourism effort in Delaware. The 1998 edition is a collaboration between the University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program, the Sussex County Convention and Tourism Commission, and Thomson Chesapeake Publications.
For an inventory form to list your nature-based event, attraction, or activity in this year's guide, please contact Jim Falk, University of Delaware Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service in Lewes, at (302) 645-4235, or by e-mail at email@example.com. There is no charge for listing events or attractions in the booklet, but completing the inventory form is required to assure the accuracy of your information. The deadline for submissions is Friday, April 10.