How Maps Can Lift Sustainable Tourism

Tourism supports 1 in 10 jobs worldwide, and is responsible for a 1.7 trillion dollar economic impact. In 2021, the role of DMOs, Destination Marketers, and Local Guides has become more important than ever.

While increasing visitor numbers is great for economic growth, it is equally important to keep this tourism sustainable. With the flood of travel information online, DMOs are having a hard time tracking, and managing their tourism.

Not only can this lead to sustainability issues, it’s also a missed opportunity for the destination.

Visitors Love Custom Maps

Visitors use google or apple maps to get to your location, but once they arrive, they look for a more precise, more authentic mapping experience. Maps help visitors quickly get their bearings, and feel confident in their decisions of where to go and what to do. A map built by a location expert helps visitors plan a great experience, and get the most out of their visit.

Maps aren’t only great for the visitors, maps provide a critical point of information exchange between the destination and the visitor, one that few destinations are fully taking advantage of.

If you went through your annual strategic plan and looked at the KPIs, I’d be willing to bet a map can help improve every single one.

Destination Maps Prior to 2021

Maps have been around for awhile. How do destinations design and distribute their custom maps?

Before 2021, the options were limited to:

  • Hire a map designer to design a print map
  • Build a custom app
  • Hire a developer or agency to build a custom interactive map for your website

Paper maps have their obvious limitations. They are disposable and non eco-friendly. There is no GPS functionality with a paper map, content space is limited, changes require re-prints.

Now before we continue, we realize that many destinations have already invested thousands on building a custom app (we’ve built a few in our day as well). Many of them are great resources and have been a great investment. Besides, before July 2021, you haven’t had a better option!

Location specific apps have their own limitations. The trends are telling us that fewer and fewer people are inclined to download them. Especially among the younger generations, and those that do download them, often delete them shortly after their trip. This defeats a primary purpose of a digital visitor resource: contact with your guest after they leave.

These apps are expensive, and because of cost limitations, the quality is generally low. Even if your app is top notch, visitors have had enough previous experience with poorly designed destination apps to expect the same of yours. More often than not, they won’t take the time to download your app, especially those one time visitors you really want to contact and learn from.

The third option is a recent trend, also with limitations. Custom dev work is usually required, and these maps can’t be saved or used offline, and they are generally difficult to use, especially on a mobile phone, and things like data tracking, and communication with visitors aren’t supported with these maps.

Wander: The Local Mapping Platform

As of June 2021, there is a new and better solution for creating and distributing these maps. Our team at Wander (Yes, I’m the CEO, but bear with me) actually began building custom location apps in 2012, but have since discovered a new and better way to support destinations and connect them to visitors by leveraging a universal visitor need: a local map.

Wander helps solve these problems in 3 ways:

Map Building and Design Platform

Wander provides a set of tools and services to help you design and build a map your visitors will love, and the pricing model is designed to accommodate destinations of all sizes with all budgets.

Instant Map Updates By You

Photos, hours of operation, descriptions, and more can be added and updated on the Wander Map Publisher Platform, and these updates take effect in your visitors hands as soon as you press save.

3D Terrain and Buildings, Search, and Filtering

Wander uses the latest mapping technologies, and there are virtually no style limitations. With Wander, you can give your visitors a million dollar mapping experience without the large price tag. Just to give you a reference point, AllTrails and OnX don’t have mobile offline 3D terrain. Wander maps are the best of the best, and they’re free for your visitors to use.

Instant Map Access Anywhere

Your map is only as good as it is actively being used by visitors, and that requires your map to be everywhere, literally. It needs to be embedded on your site, it needs to be on the app store (in the Wander Mobile App), but it also needs to be accessible instantly on a mobile browser, without an app download. Visitors don’t care enough to spend more than a few seconds looking for your map. Wander makes it instant.

With a simple QR code scan, assuming your visitor has cell service at the time of the scan, your wander map is instantly available on their mobile phone. Instant, gorgeous map.

Secure, Anonymous Visitor Data Insights

How do you track the most visited areas of your destination? How do you know how many people are coming and going? Where are one time visitors going? Where are they spending the most time? How long do people stay?

These are all important questions, and this is a primary reason to build a custom app, but with Wander, you can have secure, responsible data collection that can be leveraged to make important decisions, and because your map is so accessible, you’ll have more data, and more accurate data, than any other source available.

*We are currently building this feature

Global Exposure

Tourism has a reputation for being slow to change, but the destinations that adopt Wander (especially the early adopters) will be rewarded with exposure all over the globe on the Wander App.

It’s a no brainer, really.

If you have ownership of your visitors primary navigation tool, you can manage your destination tourism and change the game. Be the hero of the office, and get the Wander ball rolling.

To get started building your map and to ask us questions, send us an email to





I write about Destination Marketing and Management, and Tourism Focused Tech Solutions, specifically mapping solutions for destinations.

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AJ Brau

AJ Brau

I write about Destination Marketing and Management, and Tourism Focused Tech Solutions, specifically mapping solutions for destinations.

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