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Geopark and Geotourism

trails

The term of geopark was sticking out firstly in China in 1997 (tourism-www.review.com, 2010). This idea arises when two European researchers i.e. Guy Martini (France) and Nicolas Zouros (Greece) met in a meeting of cultural heritage of Geology. Before, In 1998, UNESCO has made a program about geopark that was known as International Network of Geopark (INoG). This ideas get more support and in the year 2000 through a convention on Lesvos island, forming the European Geopark Network (EGN). There are four areas that become the region of geopark in Europe at that time, namely: (1) the Reserve Geologique de Haute-Provence (France), (2) Natural History Museum of the Petrified Forest of Lesvos (Greece), (3) Geopark Gerolstein / Vulkaneifel (Germany ), and (4) Maestrazgo Cultural Park (Spain) (www.europeangeopark.org, 2010).

In 2010, geopark is increasingly popular around the world and more countries who want to join up the geological potential into the network the Global Geopark Network (GGN). In August 2009, the amount of geopark that becomen the GGM members are 63 locations in 19 countries including 34 in Europe, 22 in China, three in Japan, and one in Australia, Brazil, Iran and Malaysia (www.europeangeopark.org, 2010). According to UNESCO (2006), geopark can be defined as follows:

“A GEOPARK is a nationally protected area containing a number of geological heritage sites of particular importance, rarity or aesthetic appeal. These Earth heritage sites are part of an integrated concept of protection, education and sustainable development.”

Geopark has 3 goals i.e. conservation, education, and geotourism. A description of each objective was outlined by UNESCO (2006) as follows:

1.      Conservation

“A GEOPARK seeks to conserve significant geological features, and explore and demonstrate methods for excellence in conservation. The management authority of each GEOPARK ensures adequate protection measures in consultation with collaborating universities, geological surveys or relevant statutory bodies in accordance with local traditions and legislative obligations.”

2.      Education

“A GEOPARK organizes activities and provides logistic support to communicate geoscientific knowledge and environmental concepts to the public. This is accomplished through protected and interpreted geosites, museums, information centres, trails, guided tours, school class excursions, popular literature, maps, educational materials and displays, seminars and so on. A GEOPARK also fosters scientific research and cooperation with universities and research institutes, stimulating the dialogue between the geosciences and local populations.”

3.      Geotourism

“A GEOPARK stimulates economic activity and sustainable development through geotourism. By attracting increasing numbers of visitors, a GEOPARK stimulates local socio-economic development through the promotion of a quality label linked with the local natural heritage. It encourages the creation of local enterprises and cottage industries involved in geotourism and geoproducts.”

Geotourism is a combination of geology and tourism. According to Dowling (2008), geowisata can be defined as follows:

“Geotourism is sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing the earth’s geological features”

Furthermore, Dowling (2008) states that geotourism is a new form of ecotourism. Future developments, geotourism will include the following:

  1. Refining the definition of ‘geotourism’
  2. Empowering local people
  3. Emphasizing quality products and service
  4. Marketing the ‘Geopark’ brand
  5. Introducing Guide Certification
  6. Recognizing Geotourism Potential
  7. Minimizing impacts through planning
  8. Recognizing the importance of Interpretation

In a brochure that was promoted by the European Geopark Network (EGN), the aims of geotourism activities as follows:

1.   Promotion of common geotourism activities

2.   Exchange of know-how and best practice on sustainable tourism development

3.   Development of community participation in conserving and recording natural heritage

4.   Strengthening of transnational relations

5.   Using new technologies for better access to the market

6.   Strengthening links between women’s co-operatives

7.   Strengthening of links between Geopark managers and local producers

8.   Exchange of Geopark exhibitions, personnel, etc.

9.   Workshops and training for developing the geotourism offer in the partner Geoparks

10. Development of geotourism packages for typical target groups


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