Incorporating User Opinion into a New Wine Tourism Map for Southwest Virginia
Thematic tourist maps provide users with a tangible geographic route to their travel destinations and also may contain a wide variety of additional information to enhance traveler experiences. Unlike other types of maps that focus on accurate topographic representation of an area or on depiction of spatial data, tourist maps should be specifically constructed to appeal directly to the end-user. Toward that end, this research developed and implemented a model to incorporate user opinion on content, levels of detail, and labeling conventions during the process of designing and creating a wine tourism map for southwest Virginia. Over 700 (total) wine tourists completed brief questionnaires during five distinct phases of data collection and map modeling. At each point, we incorporated user input into map design for the preceding phase, and a final assessment surveyed tourist attitude of the finished product. Interestingly, surveys indicated a propensity for users to highly rank the idea of more and more detailed content data, as well as high levels of spatial detail, but when presented with the corresponding maps, they tended to favor a cleaner more simplified display. This finding underscores our conclusion that while user input is critical for developing successful tourist maps, cartographic training and skill is still required to achieve a quality product. Overall, the final map incorporating user input received overwhelmingly positive user reviews when compared to existing regional maps indicating that our iterative method of seeking user input at various stages of map development was successful, and facilitated creation of an improved product.