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A comprehensive approach to assessing the Tourism potential of geological sites in a natural area tourism destination: Rottnest Island as a case study

Rutherford, Jessica (2012) A comprehensive approach to assessing the Tourism potential of geological sites in a natural area tourism destination: Rottnest Island as a case study. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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Geotourism is an emerging form of sustainable natural area tourism which provides tourist access to and interpretation of the earth’s geological features and processes. Its focus on the conservation of significant geological features provides the means to generate educational, environmental and economic benefits. The significant growth in geotourism globally over the past decade has created a demand for more robust and systematic approaches to assessing the geotourism potential of natural areas, and identifying suitable sites of geological interest (geosites) that meet economic and environmental demands.

With the emphasis on tourism opportunities that provide access to and interpretation of geosites, this research proposes a powerful approach that incorporates a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) method for identifying suitable field geosites in a geologically rich natural-area tourism destination. This was achieved by reviewing relevant literature and existing environmental GIS datasets, in association with field studies, to identify significant geological features and processes, with a view to identifying suitable geosite locations for interpretative geotourism products on Rottnest Island, Western Australia. In particular, this research investigated the geotourism opportunities on Rottnest Island, by assessing geosites based on criteria of geological representativeness, tourism access and management considerations using a Multi-Criteria Evaluation (MCE) method within GIS processing software.

This study has confirmed that Rottnest Island has sites with geotourism potential and that GIS, combined with field studies, is a beneficial component to geotourism planning and identifying potential geosites. Specifically, in the context of geotourism planning and management, this research highlights critical topics associated with generic criteria for selection of geosites, the importance of access in geological tourism, the utility of GIS in geotourism planning and the need for geo-interpretative themes for the development of geotourism on Rottnest Island.

Results of this research generated a spatial database containing information on the geology, tourism access and management considerations for 63 field geosites on Rottnest Island. Particularly the results of GIS data queries revealed a number of sites suitable for easy, moderate and advanced tourism access. Furthermore, this research provides a guide to the prominent data that can support geotourism product planning and to site specific information regarding geoconservation through environmental management strategies.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Supervisor(s): Kobryn, Halina and Newsome, David
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