Point, Click, Go!

Love to explore? Here's a site to see

The old Williamson County Courthouse, Franklin, Tenn.

Credit: NTHP

This spring, the National Trust for Historic Preservation launches Heritage Travel, Inc., an online resource geared to people seeking heritage-rich travel experiences.

The centerpiece of the new venture (a for-profit subsidiary of the National Trust) is a website where consumers can research trips, book travel, and share experiences with fellow tourists. "The site features thousands of historically authentic destinations," says president and CEO John Williams. "We offer content, commerce, and community for visitors pursuing their passions for heritage and culture."

Once live, the website will provide a portal to venues—cities and towns, downtowns and neighborhoods, historic landmarks, museums, and hotels—and events such as historic reenactments, music festivals, and ethnic celebrations. Based on personal preferences, and online suggestions and ratings from other travelers, users can tailor itineraries and reserve hotel rooms, activities, performances, and guided tours. Social media, blogs, and video will link website visitors, and a feature called Heritage Circles will match those with common interests—architecture, for instance, or food and wine.

There is another reward: "By exposing people to more places, we'll be exposing them to historic preservation," says Williams. "Many travelers already have a preservation mindset. Our job is to fan that spark so that it becomes a flame."

Heritage Travel, Inc., also helps destinations, offering them global visibility and new ways to attract visitors. Destinations participating in the program must meet stringent standards of preservation. The first participant to sign on is the Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau, which promotes the city of Franklin, Tenn., and the surrounding countryside. (Franklin was one of the National Trust's Dozen Distinctive Destinations in 2009.) The county, at the northern end of the Natchez Trace Parkway, near Nashville, has long been a favorite among travelers seeking well-preserved landmarks, landscapes, and neighborhoods.

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