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Ross Dowling

This chapter explores the formation of the Geoparks Movement in the 1990s to the worldwide movement today with 140 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 38 countries. Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development. Geoparks combine geology with the empowerment of local communities and create opportunities for sustainable tourism. Geoparks personify sustainable development in action. They empower local communities and give them the opportunity to develop cohesive partnerships with the common goal of promoting the area’s significant geological processes, features, periods of time, historical themes linked to geology, or outstanding geological beauty. Just as importantly, the development of geoparks driven by geotourism, encourages regional investment, creates new businesses and jobs and generates financial benefits to regional communities.

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Ross Dowling

New Zealand is a geotourist’s paradise and rivals Iceland for its range of diverse landforms and geological attractions. Central to both countries is their living geology with active volcanoes, frequent earthquakes and geothermal regions shaking the earth and showcasing the ‘processes’ of geology which ‘form’ or shape the land. The two main islands are the North Island (42% of NZ’s land area) and the South Island (56%). Both islands have a large number of geotourism attractions. These include geothermal areas, caves, geysers, active volcanoes, natural springs, blowholes, unusual rock formations, glaciers, fiords. Geotourism is an emerging multi-million dollar industry in New Zealand and once this vision has been captured, and the risks mitigated, then no doubt a host of geotourism activities will be marketed and geoparks established so that New Zealand can capitalize on its unique geological base to foster sustainable tourism development.

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Ross Dowling

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Edited by Ross Dowling and David Newsome

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Edited by Ross Dowling and David Newsome

This content is available to you

Edited by Ross Dowling and David Newsome

This content is available to you

Edited by Ross Dowling and David Newsome

Geotourism is tourism based on geological features. It has been variously described as being a type of tourism that is either ‘geological’ or geographical’ in orientation. Whereas the former view was that geotourism was a ‘type’ of tourism in a similar vein to ecotourism, the latter view was wider and encompassed it thereby representing a new ‘approach’ to tourism. In this chapter geotourism is viewed both as a ‘type’ of tourism (with a geological focus) as well as an ‘approach’ to tourism, encompassing a wider geographic view. Thus, it is proposed that geotourism may be viewed through multiple lenses along a geological spectrum which has geotourism as a ‘type’ of tourism at one end, and as an ‘approach’ at the other. Thus, the definition of geotourism has expanded to encompass a number of attributes – geology, tourism, geosites, visits and interpretation. The ‘geo’ or geology part of geotourism includes geological features or attributes which are considered worthy of tourist interest. The ‘tourism’ part refers to the conversion of geological features or attributes into tourism resources as ‘geo’ attractions or tours often at designated ‘geosites’. These can occur in either natural or modified settings such as in rural or urban areas and visits to geological attractions (geo-attractions) could be either independent or on guided tours. The interpretation of geo-attractions occurs through an approach comprising elements of both geology and tourism. The geological elements comprise ‘form’, ‘process’ and ‘time’. These describe the geological tourist attractions of landscape, landform or feature (that is, its form), how it got there or was made (process), and when, or during what period of geological time, it was formed (time).

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Ross Dowling and Mamoon Allan

Little is known about geotourists with few studies having investigated who they actually are. This chapter examines some of the literature about geotourists including a cultural tourism typology approach. Geotourists have been categorized as special interest tourists whose environmental tourism focus begins with geology and landscape, usually takes place at a geosite, and involves some form of learning through interpretation and education. Thus, a geotourist is defined as an individual who visits a site with significant geological or geomorphic characteristics to view it and gain knowledge about its features. It is argued that geotourists may include both independent individuals and groups visiting geological tourism sites which may take place in either natural or urban/built areas, that is, wherever there is a geological feature of interest. The results of a case study of 200 tourists who were visiting Wadi Rum, Jordan is presented. The results show that the main reasons for visiting Wadi Rum were to explore new places, for enjoyment and for education. A key variable underpinning their desire to explore new places was their desire to undergo a ‘sense of wonder’. The Wadi Rum geotourists were young to middle aged and well educated. They are motivated by a high level of intrinsic motivation they want to learn about geosites and be given sound information about the attraction they are visiting.

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Ross Dowling and Nicole Grünert

Namibia, a country in southwest Africa, is distinguished by its geological feature the Namib Desert which borders the Atlantic Ocean. With a geological evolution dating back 2 billion years, there is evidence that all major geological processes have shaped the landscapes that attract thousands of visitors each year. These processes have given rise to a variety of geological landforms including aeolian landforms, glacial landforms, volcanic landforms, and fluvial landforms. Namibia has a wealth of geotourism attractions including the Etosha Pan, the Erongo Mountains and the Brandberg, Namib-Naukluft Park, the Kalahari, Fish River Canyon and the Orange River. This chapter argues that geotourism is an emerging form of tourism with much potential for the country’s sustainable regional development. One example is the Gondwana Collection, a lodge group operating throughout Namibia which combines its hospitality business with nature conservation and social commitment in a sustainable manner based largely around geotourism resources.

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David Newsome and Ross Dowling

We reiterate the international perspective and re-visit the overarching topics of ‘geology and tourism’, ‘geotourism, society and sustainability’, ‘geotourism in urban areas’, ‘interpretation and education strategies’, ‘geotourism’s contribution to geoparks’ and ‘case studies in geotourism’. We conclude on a new approach to understanding geotourism which in its narrowest form can be described as geological tourism (a form of tourism) and from a wider perspective can be regarded as geographical tourism (an approach to tourism). Geoparks continue to grow as vehicles for geotourism and the need for best practice management is described. It is acknowledged that geotourism has helped to foster awareness of geodiversity and the need for geo-conservation. Geotourism can be considered to be the next ‘wave’ of tourism.