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Geotourism: opportunity and tourism significance

Newsome, D. and Dowling, R.K. (2010) Geotourism: opportunity and tourism significance. In: Dowling, R.K. and Newsome, D., (eds.) Global Geotourism Perspectives. Goodfellow Publishers Limited, Oxford.


Some destinations are more ‘geological’ than others. In the United States, places such as the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns or Mammoth Cave are immediately identifiable as being geological attractions (Alden 2009). However, in other parts of the world there are numerous other geoheritage sites some of which are located in natural areas, with others in built areas such as in cities and along roadsides. For example, Siccar Point, on Scotland’s eastern shore, and ‘Hutton’s Section’ in Holyrood Park in Edinburgh, are two places associated with James Hutton, the father of geology. One is situated in a natural landscape, the other in the midst of a city. The Jurassic Coast of southern England is world-renowned for its dinosaur fossils (King et al., 2010) and Ayers Rock (Uluru) in central Australia is one of the world’s geological icons. Thus geotourism sites and destinations may be found almost anywhere.

This book has illustrated the extent and breadth of geotourism around the world. With examples from six continents it shows clear evidence of an emerging type of tourism which is based on the earth’s geological heritage, promotes geoconservation, enhances geological understanding and is locally beneficial. Whilst it has similar attributes to ecotourism, geotourism has two significant differences. The first is that whereas ecotourism focuses primarily Ofl the biotic features of the environment, that is, the fauna (animals) and flora (plants), geotourism is focused solely on the abiotic element of the earth, that is, its forms and processes. Second, ecotourism by its definition, occurs mostly in natural areas, whereas geotourism can take place in either natural or built environments. Put simply it can occur wherever there is any significant geological feature of tourism interest.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Goodfellow Publishers Limited
Copyright: (c) Goodfellow Publishers 2010
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