Chapter 1: Geotourism: definition, characteristics and international perspectives
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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).

Edited by Ross Dowling and David Newsome