The Northern Forest Rural Destination Academy (NFRDA) aims to makes regional tourism destination development efforts more strategic, efficient, and effective, by helping communities leverage their outdoor recreation amenities. This industry sector delivers important community economic development, workforce, and business benefits. The NFRDA initiative will help communities learn from one another, make better use of limited resources, and build a more cohesive regional experience for potential new residents, businesses and visitors. It will deliver a comprehensive set of technical and financial assistance resources.

Overall Objectives of the Rural Tourism Academy:

  1. Build capacity to develop and manage the region as an outdoor recreation destination.
  2. Invest in community projects to develop outdoor recreation infrastructure.
  3. Support shared learning, innovation and collaboration across networks.

The Northern Forest Rural Tourism Academy consists of professionally led workshops and training sessions. They combine with a package of direct financial and technical assistance to support destination development projects in high potential Rural Destination Areas across the region. The program is built on a recognition that successful destinations require a unique level of cooperation among business, non-profit, and municipal stakeholders and a common set of skills, knowledge, and language to enable effective team-based project implementation.

The focal geography for the Northern Forest Rural Destination Academy is Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom (Caledonia, Essex, Orleans counties), Coos County New Hampshire, and Oxford and Franklin counties in Maine.

Creating sustainable and viable rural tourism destinations.

Rural Tourism is an important part of many regional economies. In many cases it is based in resource dependent economies and leverages the associated outdoor recreation environment. However, it also often comes with the challenge of managing competing land uses, seasonal influxes and potential overuse in sensitive areas.

The key challenge for many rural tourism destinations is getting the balance right, between the positive economic impacts, and potential community impacts. The Rural Tourism Academy is an opportunity to take a deep dive into these issues; and think about how to create the right balance in your own community and region.

Outdoor Recreation Economy

Outdoor adventure in the Northern Forest region has long been a cornerstone of the region’s economy. Today, recreation is central to many Northern Forest communities as a local economic development strategy for attracting both visitors and new residents. Destination development is an approach to community and economic revitalization that builds a wide variety of assets – not just traditional tourism elements – to attract visitors and improve quality of life for residents.


For more information about the Northern Forest Rural Tourism Academy, please contact:

Joe Short, Vice President
Northern Forest Center
18 N Main Street, Ste. 204
Concord, NH 03301-4926

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