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Pennsylvania Ecotourism: Untapped Potential

This guide provides a variety of resources and ideas to establish local ecotourism. Use it to enhance the economy while identifying, teaching, sharing, and preserving unique natural areas that make communities special.

Key Points:

  • Bucks County and the Pocono Region have demonstrated that ecotourism has the potential to be a successful marketing strategy and also serves to sustain the economic and environmental quality of life in those communities.  Other Pennsylvania communities should assess their environmental assets to determine if ecotourism is feasible to develop new markets and sustain existing opportunities.
  • Ecotourism potential exists throughout Pennsylvania's rural communities, but limited sites in rural parts of the state possess infrastructure for ecotourism development.
  • Old-growth forest ecosystems in Pennsylvania are a unique and precious environmental legacy to all citizens which can be marketed as ecotourism destinations.  These ecotourism assets should be marketed more effectively.
  • Pennsylvania's State Forests and State Parks have marketable ecotourism assets including extensive trail systems, wild areas, and natural areas.
  • Cook Forest State Park and Ricketts Glen State Park, with their existing infrastructure and capabilities for expansion, exemplify models for other parts of the state near old-growth forest.
  • The old-growth forests in northwestern Pennsylvania support an abundance and diversity of bird species unique in the northeastern United States.
  • Greater efforts must be made to market the state's existing ecotourism areas, with a plan in place to address sustainability and capacity, before utilizing these natural resources as ecotourism destinations.