The Ability of Tourist Natural Trails to Resist Tourism Load and Possibilities for Reducing the Environmental Impacts : Case Study of the Slovak Paradise National Park (Slovakia)

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Abstract

The strictly protected natural area of Sucha Bela Gorge, located in the Slovak Paradise National Park, Slovakia, is exposed to environmental degradation by heavy tourist loads. Although educational and technical measures have been put in place, there is ongoing debate whether and how to limit the intensity of tourist visits. This study evaluates the ability of the trail leading through the gorge to resist trampling disturbance and to minimise the environmental impacts in the wider area of Sucha Bela by keeping tourists from moving off the designated areas. Aspects of trail layout, geological and geomorphological structures, terrain altering during the summer season, and acceptable tourist flow were investigated.The results show the current development would be acceptable in the case of limited off-trail movement. It therefore seems appropriate to review the trail allocation and marking, and to focus on environmental education rather than on limiting tourist visits.

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