Keynote NET 2013



Tourism: Building Lasting Relationships!

Ted Lee Eubanks
Founder and President
Fermata, Inc.

Fermata began by conceptualizing and developing the first birding trail in the world – the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. We had a simple aspiration – to connect people to special places to experience nature through birds. Working with Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Texas birding trails eventually stretched to cover the state (as well as being broadened to include all wildlife). Now we have worked on birding and wildlife trails in numerous states, including Louisiana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Alabama, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. All connect people to nature.

From the initial viewing trail projects we expanded into physical trails (such as in Cook Forest State Park in Pennsylvania), scenic byways (such as Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway in Kansas and Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail), and heritage areas (such as the Alabama Black Belt Heritage Area). A number of these projects connect people not to just nature but to the historical and cultural heritage of a place. From the Lumber Heritage Region of Pennsylvania to the Turtle Mountains of North Dakota, we labor to turn over each rock in our search for what makes each place special.

Since the elements that comprise “place” are complex and diverse, Fermata continues to explore different ways of understanding and expressing the importance of place. In recent years we have focused on using new technologies for our work, including social media (see the Beyond the Beach Discovery Trail in Indiana). From the design and installation of interpretive signs, trail guides, SmartTrails, audio guides, and websites, to aiding communities, agencies, and countries in understanding the value of their special places, our work remains riveted on a simple path – connect.

President Theodore Roosevelt admonished his fellow citizens to do what you can, with what you have, where you are. We have taken his words to heart. We work with inherited resources, and aid communities, agencies, individuals, and countries in taking advantage, sustainably, of what they already have in place. In these difficult economic times, aren’t we all are making do with what we have?

Our work can be distilled into two words – people, places. In a world rapidly being reduced to an homogeneous goo, we strive to reveal the special qualities (nature, culture, history) of each place we work. From Chicago to China, Fermata is on a quest. We hope to help others enjoy, appreciate, and save what makes them different, singular. Let us help you understand, enhance, interpret, and protect your special places.