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Ross K. Dowling

Abstract

Geotourism is a new form of tourism based on the geological environment. Whilst ecotourism and biodiversity have been described in the academic literature for over thirty years, geotourism and its attendant concepts of geoheritage, geodiversity, geoconservation, and geotours , is relatively new. Geotourism is defined as tourism which focuses on an area’s geology and landscape as the basis of fostering sustainable tourism development. It begins with an understanding of the Abiotic (non-living) environment, to build greater awareness of the Biotic (living) environment of plants and animals as well as the Cultural environment of people, past and present. It is argued that geotourism offers a new form of sustainable tourism which is more holistic than previous niche forms of tourism.

Open access

Ross K. Dowling and David Newsome

Abstract

Geotourism is becoming a well established form of tourism based on the geological environment. It offers a new form of sustainable tourism which is more holistic then previous niche forms of tourism. However, with more people than ever visiting natural areas worldwide, the cumulative impacts of visitors on geological sites is increasing. This paper surveys visitor impacts and site management at geological sites which are geotourism destinations. We describe geotourism which is the engine driving the core activities of conservation, education and sustainable development in geoparks. We then outline some lessons learned from management in dealing with visitor impacts at a heavily visited geopark in Taiwan, a volcano in Indonesia, and a coastal World Heritage site in England. The importance of education is emphasized for geo-climbing in Spain and all-terrain vehicles in Poland. A number of site management approaches are noted, including the importance of guiding as a management strategy as well as the value of a positive involvement by the local community. Finally, some examples are given of the risks associated with tourism activities in volcanic areas as well as related appropriate management activities.