Special Issue "Geotourism"

A special issue of Geosciences (ISSN 2076-3263).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Rannveig Ólafsdóttir

Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Iceland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: physical geography; geomorphology, tourism and environment; sustainable tourism; geotourism, tourism spatial planning; environmental management; public participation; geographical information system

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In past years, international tourist arrivals seem to be hitting a new record, every year, which is likely to continue in the near future. Increased numbers of airlines, and subsequently increased competition, have reduced travel costs and made travel to places that were previously difficult to reach more easily accessible. Thus, many places that depict special geological heritage and history are, today, more accessible than ever, and subsequently attract more visitors looking for new experiences and exotic destinations.

Within the field of tourism, geotourism is one of the most recent concepts, primarily focusing on geological and geomorphological features in landscapes to attract tourists. This new niche segment within tourism is based on conservation of geoheritage and geodiversity through appropriate sustainability measures and management. Geotourism is, however, a broad concept, including many aspects of tourism activities, such as transport, accommodation, services, recreation, planning, and management. Emphasizing the fast growth of geotourism worldwide is the growth of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network, from 20 geoparks when it was founded in 2004, up to 127 in 2017. Concurrent with the growth of geotourism, scientific publications on issues related to the subject have increased intensely over the past few years. However, the major focus on geotourism as an economic driver is generally with respect to rural development.

Geotourism is expected to continue to grow rapidly worldwide, stressing the critical importance of increased understanding and knowledge on its various impacts from a broader perspective. The concept of geotourism covers the theories and practicalities involved in managing geologically-precious attractions. Therefore, more integrated studies from different disciplines related to geology, geography, geomorphology and tourism are needed. The topic of geotourism is, thus, well worth the concentrated attention of a Special Issue. In putting together this Special Issue, we are particularly interested in understanding how geotourism has evolved over time; future challenges of geotourism; geoconservation management; sustainable management of geotourism; geotourism spatial planning and design; tourism impact at different types of geological sites; geotourism in relation to geological hazards and  geomorphological changes; geotourism and public perception; geotourists as a market niche; and geotourist behaviour.

Prof. Rannveig Ólafsdóttir
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • geotourism
  • geoheritage
  • geoconservation
  • geodiversity
  • geology
  • geomorphology
  • geotourism spatial planning
  • sustainable geotourism management
  • geotourists behaviour

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle The Riding Trail as Geotourism Attraction: Evidence from Iceland
Geosciences 2018, 8(10), 376; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences8100376
Received: 20 August 2018 / Revised: 8 October 2018 / Accepted: 9 October 2018 / Published: 12 October 2018
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Abstract
The geological aspects of tourism are much more extensive than just places to be viewed and/or experienced. The terrain traveled is also a geological phenomenon and an attraction in itself. For a hiker or a rider the type of trail is important. Features
[...] Read more.
The geological aspects of tourism are much more extensive than just places to be viewed and/or experienced. The terrain traveled is also a geological phenomenon and an attraction in itself. For a hiker or a rider the type of trail is important. Features of the trail such as the gradient, altitude, the soil qualities, the length and the vistas it affords are important geological considerations. The trail as an experienced geological attraction, or should we say, the foundation for horse based tourism, particularly long rides, is the topic of this paper. The research is based on different sources. Existing data from earlier research on the Icelandic horse industry and equestrian tourism are used, as well as eight interviews conducted for this study. Further, the authors use their personal experiences as riders and horse tourists to reflect on the topic. Findings indicate that the riding trail and its surroundings can be defined as geosites and equestrian tourists as casual geotourists. The trails as geosites have different values for its stakeholders. The trails seem to have values such as scientific/educational, cultural/heritage, scenic and touristic values, just as other geosites. Furthermore, we argue that riding trails do have an economic value, as well as an emotional/romantic value. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geotourism)
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Open AccessArticle Geotourism Perspectives for Transhumance Routes. Analysis, Requalification and Virtual Tools for the Geoconservation Management of the Drove Roads in Southern Italy
Geosciences 2018, 8(10), 368; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences8100368
Received: 6 August 2018 / Revised: 7 September 2018 / Accepted: 26 September 2018 / Published: 1 October 2018
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Abstract
The article illustrates the interest in transhumance routes, the ancient paths connecting high and lowland pastures in Southern Italy and other Mediterranean regions, as elements of particular importance for sustainable geotourism management. As a contribution to the needs of requalification of the drove
[...] Read more.
The article illustrates the interest in transhumance routes, the ancient paths connecting high and lowland pastures in Southern Italy and other Mediterranean regions, as elements of particular importance for sustainable geotourism management. As a contribution to the needs of requalification of the drove roads, we propose a method of analysis for their preservation and their reuse for geotourism purposes, showing the steps and instruments necessary to organize, enhance and communicate transhumance routes as integrated cultural landscapes. Results are presented as applied to a specific case study (Molise, IT) of a geoconservation management proposal for the assessment of the state of conservation of the drove roads, of their cultural heritage and of their potential reuse for geotourism. This methodological proposal uses geographical information systems, historical sources, cartography and remote sensing techniques and includes 3D virtual reconstructions of the transhumance landscape. The article is meant to contribute to a non-stereotyped image of transhumance geoheritage, reflecting on communication and learning strategies supported by geo-historical analyses, in order to promote a greater awareness of landscapes genesis and evolution for visitors and local communities. It is argued that future challenges of geotourism relate to the ability to recompose nature and culture to an interpretive unity, both from a theoretical and operative point of view, and that the goal is to reach an integrated tourist offer focused on the relationship between man and environment with the signs of territorialisation processes expressed through economic vocations, traditional production chains, cultural values and territorial identity. To this purpose, the valorisation of the transhumance routes—for their historical-economic, ecological, landscape, patrimonial and identity meanings—seems to respond perfectly. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geotourism)
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Open AccessArticle Geotourism at the Natural Park of La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone (Catalonia, Spain): Impact, Viability, and Sustainability
Geosciences 2018, 8(8), 295; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences8080295
Received: 22 June 2018 / Revised: 20 July 2018 / Accepted: 2 August 2018 / Published: 7 August 2018
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Abstract
La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone is a suitable case study to analyze the impact and sustainability of geotourism on a protected volcanic field, as it has allowed the transformation of a poorly known territory into one of the best known and most visited geosites
[...] Read more.
La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone is a suitable case study to analyze the impact and sustainability of geotourism on a protected volcanic field, as it has allowed the transformation of a poorly known territory into one of the best known and most visited geosites of Catalonia (Spain). The protection of this volcanic area represented the end of legal and illegal quarrying activities that significantly damaged most of its volcanoes, but also provided an opportunity to develop the zone for tourism. We compiled the available information from its establishment in 1982 as a natural park by the Catalan Government to the present day, in order to analyze the socio-economic impact of geotourism on this protected area and its surroundings. We paid attention to its evolution in terms of the number of visitors, the social and economic consequences that this type of tourism has had, and whether it is compatible with the conservation of natural assets, especially geological ones. We also studied the role that the co-management of the protected space by local administrations and private entities has had on its sustainability. The results obtained are relevant to visualizing the viability of geotourism in a protected area by combining the economic drive and the conservation of natural assets. Spaces such as La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone represent natural laboratories where we can observe the success of the application of environmentally friendly policies with a positive socioeconomic impact on geotourism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geotourism)
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Open AccessArticle Discovering the Landscape by Cycling: A Geo-Touristic Experience through Italian Badlands
Geosciences 2018, 8(8), 291; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences8080291
Received: 18 June 2018 / Revised: 22 July 2018 / Accepted: 2 August 2018 / Published: 4 August 2018
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Abstract
Today, more than ever, it is necessary to adopt an innovative approach to studying and educating the public about territorial sciences. The complex link connecting Earth and society has to be rediscovered, by raising awareness about environmental balances, resources, and risks. The best
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Today, more than ever, it is necessary to adopt an innovative approach to studying and educating the public about territorial sciences. The complex link connecting Earth and society has to be rediscovered, by raising awareness about environmental balances, resources, and risks. The best way, scientifically and culturally, to tackle the problem of sustainable development, is to adopt a methodological approach that includes the fundamental elements of communication, public education and training. Geotourism is a modern and powerful way of informing the general public about geological sciences. Landscape ecology offers new approaches in the field of scientific research, while on the socio-political front, the European Landscape Convention ratifies its essential functions on the cultural, ecological, environmental and social levels. Geographical information system (GIS) technology provides us with powerful communicative tools, suitable for creative and flexible use. We will examine the geo-touristic potential of the “Calanchi” (Badlands) areas in Basilicata region, particularly significant since it is representative of the socio-environmental balance of the territory. An original integration between the landscape, cycling and tourism offers new perspectives on the local economy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geotourism)
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Open AccessArticle The Caribbean’s Geotourism Potential and Challenges: A Focus on Two Islands in the Region
Geosciences 2018, 8(8), 273; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences8080273
Received: 21 May 2018 / Revised: 20 July 2018 / Accepted: 20 July 2018 / Published: 26 July 2018
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Abstract
Geotourism is a relatively new concept in the tourism industry, a concept which apparently has not yet been formally embraced by Caribbean destinations. This paper, based primarily on a literature review supplemented by the first-hand knowledge of the author, who served for over
[...] Read more.
Geotourism is a relatively new concept in the tourism industry, a concept which apparently has not yet been formally embraced by Caribbean destinations. This paper, based primarily on a literature review supplemented by the first-hand knowledge of the author, who served for over a decade in the natural resource management and tourism sectors in the region, identifies some of the geotourism assets and assesses the geotourism potential of two selected Caribbean islands, namely the Commonwealth of Dominica and St. Lucia. Indications are that the islands of the region have outstanding geological formations, dormant and active volcanic zones and associated geomorphological features, and breath-taking terrestrial and marine landscapes, including deep river gorges and tall mountains, and beautiful beaches, which together constitute important geotourism assets. Currently, these resources are marketed and promoted as part of the region’s nature tourism attractions. The feasibility of incorporating geotourism as a component of this overall nature tourism thrust is explored in this paper. As a follow-up to this study a survey of tourism officials, natural resource professionals, and selected scientists of the region is proposed for the purpose of identifying the reasons and constraints preventing the Caribbean region from formally embracing geotourism, developing and promoting the geotourism resources of the region as a unique component of the overall tourism product. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geotourism)
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Open AccessArticle Malta and Sicily Joined by Geoheritage Enhancement and Geotourism within the Framework of Land Management and Development
Geosciences 2018, 8(7), 253; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences8070253
Received: 18 May 2018 / Revised: 4 July 2018 / Accepted: 5 July 2018 / Published: 9 July 2018
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Abstract
Malta and Sicily, which lie at the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, share a long history and have unique geological and geomorphological features which make them attractive destinations for geotourism. In the framework of an international research project, a study for the identification,
[...] Read more.
Malta and Sicily, which lie at the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, share a long history and have unique geological and geomorphological features which make them attractive destinations for geotourism. In the framework of an international research project, a study for the identification, selection and assessment of the rich geological heritage of Malta and Sicily was carried out, aiming to create a geosite network between these islands. Based on the experience and outputs achieved in previous investigations on geoheritage assessment carried out in various morpho-climatic contexts, an integrated methodology was applied for the selection, numerical assessment and ranking of geosites. The selection phase was based on three main criteria—scientific, additional and use values—and led to the establishment of a list of 42 geosites (20 in Malta and 22 in Sicily). Besides being spectacular and attractive for tourists, these sites represent the main geomorphological contexts and the various stages of regional morphogenesis of the study areas. The sites selected were assessed quantitatively and ranked according to management and tourism criteria. The results provide both the necessary basic knowledge for joint conservation actions and policies in Malta and Sicily and the elements for creating a link between Malta and Sicily through geoheritage appraisal and tourism development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geotourism)
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Open AccessArticle Geotourism and Local Development Based on Geological and Mining Sites Utilization, Zaruma-Portovelo, Ecuador
Geosciences 2018, 8(6), 205; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences8060205
Received: 8 May 2018 / Revised: 31 May 2018 / Accepted: 4 June 2018 / Published: 6 June 2018
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Abstract
This study offers a detailed assessment of the geosites and mining sites present in the Zaruma-Portovelo mining district (Ecuador) through their qualitative and quantitative assessment. It shows up the potentiality of this area taking advantage of its geological-mining heritage. The methodological process includes:
[...] Read more.
This study offers a detailed assessment of the geosites and mining sites present in the Zaruma-Portovelo mining district (Ecuador) through their qualitative and quantitative assessment. It shows up the potentiality of this area taking advantage of its geological-mining heritage. The methodological process includes: (i) compilation and inventory of all the sites within the study area with particular geological or mining interest; (ii) preparation of reports and thematic cartography, (iii) assessment and classification of the elements of geological-mining interest; (iv) SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis and TOWS (Threats, Opportunities, Weaknesses, Strengths) matrix preparation seeking strategies to guarantee the viability of geotourism. A total of 16 sites of geological interest and 11 of mining interest were identified. The 77% of these sites was proved to be of high and very high interest in scientific terms. Likewise, their susceptibility to degradation assessed from their vulnerability and fragility was found to be high or very high in the 30% of the cases. As for the protection priority, all the studied sites obtained a medium-high result. Finally, the study based on the SWOT-TOWS revealed the possibility of applying action strategies in order to facilitate the compatibility of geotourism with the current productive activities, despite the difficult situation in the study area created by mining activities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geotourism)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Tailoring Signs to Engage Two Distinct Types of Geotourists to Geological Sites
Geosciences 2018, 8(9), 329; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences8090329
Received: 30 July 2018 / Revised: 16 August 2018 / Accepted: 29 August 2018 / Published: 3 September 2018
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Abstract
Interpretive signs are the silent ambassadors of geosites and serve a diverse audience. The primary aim of this study is to develop signs for geosites targeted at two unique groups of geotourists. A conceptual multidisciplinary geotourist typology is formulated to identify two main
[...] Read more.
Interpretive signs are the silent ambassadors of geosites and serve a diverse audience. The primary aim of this study is to develop signs for geosites targeted at two unique groups of geotourists. A conceptual multidisciplinary geotourist typology is formulated to identify two main classes of geotourists comprising the audience. Latent and archetypal geotourists inhabit various roles at geotourism sites depending on their expectations for the event, affecting the visitor experience via fluid contextual factors. Principally, latent geotourists arrive seeking novel touristic experiences while archetypal geotourists seek knowledge-building opportunities. Because signs represent one fragment of the multi-dimensional visitor experience, an approach that offers a palette of options is advocated. After the unified typology to identify the audience is presented, a multi-layered technique that offers both interpretation and a link to augmented information on signs is suggested. Some best practices in sign design are described and preliminary plans for testing are shared. The author’s overriding goal is to refine the mechanics and format of signs to garner maximum attracting and holding power, ensuring that the message is read and the target outcome is achieved. By providing tools to visitors to geological sites that enable them to create narratives that are compatible with their expectations, we facilitate a multi-dimensional constructive experience that engages everyone. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geotourism)
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Open AccessReview Geotourism: A Systematic Literature Review
Geosciences 2018, 8(7), 234; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences8070234
Received: 8 June 2018 / Revised: 16 June 2018 / Accepted: 21 June 2018 / Published: 26 June 2018
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Abstract
Geotourism is one of the newest concepts within tourism studies today. The popularity of geotourism has likewise grown rapidly over the past few decades. This rapidly growing popularity and the growing body of research on geotourism create the need for a comprehensive review
[...] Read more.
Geotourism is one of the newest concepts within tourism studies today. The popularity of geotourism has likewise grown rapidly over the past few decades. This rapidly growing popularity and the growing body of research on geotourism create the need for a comprehensive review of existing literature on the subject. The present study aims to systematically review scientific literature on geotourism published over the past two decades by identifying what knowledge has been produced on geotourism in the scientific literature and by analyzing the evolving research trends in geotourism during the same time period. The results reveal that researchers are placing an increasing focus on geotourism. A geographical analysis of the study areas indicates a true global distribution, encompassing studies of 53 countries altogether. Most of the research focusses on identifying, describing, and assessing the geoheritage of the areas in question together with their geotourism potential. The volume of research on these topics is growing at a rapid pace. Other common research topics as regards geotourism include management of geotourism and geoheritage, new geosite/geomorphosite assessment models, together with other methodological approaches. The results further indicate that researchers are less interested in geotourism stakeholders such as tourists and local communities, and that only a very small number of studies examine geotourism in the context of sustainable development. The vast majority of the studies utilize empirical data as the basis of the research or for the testing of proposed models and methodology. The present review identifies a need for a larger body of empirical research focusing on (i) sustainability of geotourism, including actual impacts of geotourism on the geoheritage and on the ecosystems of geotourism areas, (ii) knowledge on effective management of the main challenges of geotourism, as well as (iii) on stakeholders and their complex interrelations, including the effects of geotourism on local communities and their well-being. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geotourism)
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Open AccessReview Geoheritage, Geotourism and the Cultural Landscape: Enhancing the Visitor Experience and Promoting Geoconservation
Geosciences 2018, 8(4), 136; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences8040136
Received: 5 March 2018 / Revised: 27 March 2018 / Accepted: 3 April 2018 / Published: 16 April 2018
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (15256 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Geotourism spans a range of visitor interests, from the specialist geotourist to the more general visitor. As well as supporting geoconservation outcomes, it provides economic, cultural, relational and social benefits for both visitors and host communities. The interconnections between geoheritage and the cultural
[...] Read more.
Geotourism spans a range of visitor interests, from the specialist geotourist to the more general visitor. As well as supporting geoconservation outcomes, it provides economic, cultural, relational and social benefits for both visitors and host communities. The interconnections between geoheritage and the cultural components of the landscape have antecedents in concepts of landscape aesthetics in different cultures. These interconnections provide a range of opportunities for enhancing the geotourist experience and promoting geoconservation and geoeducation by means of activities that involve aesthetic and emotional experiences and interpretation through different cultural filters that encourage the rediscovery of a sense of wonder both about the geological stories in the landscape and the human interactions. A cultural ecosystem services framework provides a holistic approach for informing conservation policy, management and planning for geotourism, enabling assessment of multiple benefits and trade-offs for visitors and communities based on the values of the geoheritage assets. Geotourism studies could also benefit from integration of existing theory, conceptual analysis and practice from broader heritage and nature-based tourism and closer collaboration with relevant social sciences. Adhering to sound geoethical practice is an essential part of geotourism, which can also play a role in the promotion of geoethics among the public and professionals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geotourism)
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