Geotourism Destinations – Visitor Impacts and Site Management Considerations

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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.

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