McDonough hired as coastal nature-based tourism specialist

By: Melissa Schneider / Published: Jun 14,  2007

GULF SHORES, Ala. — Joanne McDonough has been hired through a joint project between Auburn University Marine Extension and Research Center and the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau to offer support to existing and new nature-based tourism businesses on the Alabama Gulf Coast. The Auburn University grant will fund the coastal nature-based tourism project for three years.

Nature-based tourism brings people into natural areas to experience local flora and fauna in a manner that minimizes the impact on the ecosystem. In her new job, McDonough will evaluate existing nature-based tourism businesses and identify their needs. She will work with a variety of organizations to provide training and other resources to help improve business management expertise. She will build educational resources to assist nature-based business owners gain a better understanding of the ecosystems in which they work. McDonough also will assist in creating marketing plans for nature-based businesses.

Nature-based tourism is valuable to communities along the coast because it promotes hands-on experience with the natural world. It allows communities to gain economic value from the native natural habitat. It also teaches customers how to become better environmental stewards.

McDonough’s office is at the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau in Gulf Shores, Ala., and is a resource for all nature-based tourism businesses in Baldwin and Mobile counties.

McDonough has been a resident of Orange Beach, Ala., for 16 years. She spent many years working as a television news producer until 1997, when she opened her own nature-based tourism business: Caribiana Island Cruises. McDonough’s enthusiasm and past experience with nature-based tourism are well-suited for her new position, according to Richard Wallace, Director of the Auburn University Marine Extension and Research Center.

McDonough can be contacted at (251) 974-1510 or at


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