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Tourism & Community Services Program

Some of the fastest growing segments of the travel and tourism industry – outdoor recreation, nature, adventure, and heritage tourism – also happen to be key components of the BLM-managed public lands. Recreation and tourism are significant economic drivers, and they are identified together as one of the top three industries in the 12 western states where the vast majority of the BLM’s 258 million acres of Public Lands are found. 
BLM’s tourism and community services program helps diversify and stabilize the economies of local communities. The program also sustains domestic tourism opportunities that provide valuable community amenities, attract businesses, protect sensitive resources, and improve the quality of life for visitors and local residents alike. 

Tourists view ocean at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area - Oregon

The BLM works with the tourism industry and gateway communities to:
  • Encourage development of sustainable travel and tourism within gateway communities and support community-based conservation;
  • Emphasize BLM outdoor recreation, National Landscape Conservation System units, and heritage tourism attractions that influence the social, economic, and environmental interests of gateway communities;
  • Improve BLM relationships with community, state, and individual travel and tourism partners to stimulate public involvement with the public lands; and
  • Sustain social, economic, and environmental viability of rural communities, including communicating a sustainable stewardship message to those communities and their visitors.
The tourism industry is an important socioeconomic element in all types of communities, including rural areas, large metropolitan areas, and Native American communities. BLM’s involvement with the tourism industry is important to enhancing the quality of life within communities where there is interest in expanding outdoor recreation-based tourism, nature-based tourism, and heritage-based tourism. Working with tourism partners, in turn, can help protect natural and heritage resources on the public lands, as well as provide critical economic opportunities in local communities. 
Travel & Tourism Sustainable Practices
For the health and long-term viability of the public lands, it is critical that sustainable practices be pursued related to travel and tourism. The term “sustainable”, as it relates to rural, natural and cultural tourism, is defined by the following key actions:    
  • Contribute to conservation of biodiversity;
  • Nurture the well being of people;
  • Include an interpretive/learning experience;
  • Involve responsible action on the part of tourists and the tourism industry;
  • Stress local participation, ownership and business opportunities – particularly for rural populations;
  • Emphasize delivery of goods and services to small groups by small-scale business; and
  • Focus on low consumption of non-renewable resources.
Heritage Tourism & Geotourism
Over 81% of American adults take in some form of cultural/arts/heritage activity while on their travels. “Geotourism” is defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographic character of the place being visited, as well as its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well being of its residents. Its benefits extend to those tourists who are conscious of the environment and are inclined to seek culture and unique experiences when they travel. A desire to learn fuels this interest and demands special care to ensure a truly authentic experience – a special niche for BLM with its cultural and natural attributes less-developed attractions.  
BLM Travel & Tourism Policy
The BLM attempts to manage the public lands to provide for the benefits sought by outdoor recreation participants; to help ensure recreation public land users demonstrate responsible outdoor recreation behavior; and to maintain or enhance the positive economic and social impacts on gateway communities and on their affiliated small businesses.
For a description of BLM’s policy goals related to travel and tourism, see the BLM’s Priorities and Goals for Recreation and Visitor Services (Goal 3, Objective 3).