This paper focuses on the development of a systematic data collection effort that allows managers to better understand the visitors to marine resource areas managed by NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (NMS). Through the National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Counting Process (NMS-COUNT), resource managers will gain valid and reliable data and data collection methodologies to advance predictive capability and understanding of visitors. While various federal and state agencies and Coastal Treaty Tribes collaborate in the management of coastal and marine areas, there is little compatibility in methods for estimating visitation. The NMS-COUNT process offers an iterative framework that allows local management and stakeholders to contribute to the understanding of visitor use at an NMS unit throughout each phase of the process. Building off the Interagency Visitor Monitoring Framework, the NMS-COUNT process focuses on visitation estimates and direct communication with managers and researchers to develop and implement the most efficient methodology.