Geotourism is tourism associated with geological attractions and destinations. Geotourism deals with the abiotic natural and built environments. Geotourism was first defined in England by Thomas Alfred Hose in 1995.
Most of the world defines geotourism as purely the study of geological and geomorphological features. The key definitions of modern geotourism (abiotic nature-based tourism) include:
Geotourism adds to ecotourism's principal focus on plants (flora) and animals (fauna) by adding a third dimension to the abiotic environment. Thus it is growing around the world through the growth of geoparks as well as independently in many natural and urban areas where tourism focus in on the geological environment.
"Looking at the environment in a simplistic manner, we see that it is made up of Abiotic, Biotic and Cultural(ABC) attributes. Starting with the 'C' or cultural component first, we note that of three features it is this one which is generally the most known and interpreted, that is, through information about the built or cultural environment either in the past (historical accounts) or present (community customs and culture). The 'B' or biotic features of fauna (animals) and flora (plants) has seen a large focus of interpretation and understanding through ecotourism. But it is the first attribute of the 'A' or abiotic features including rocks, landforms and processes that has received the least attention in tourism, and consequently is the least known and understood.This then is the real power of geotourism, in that it puts the tourist spotlight firmly on geology, and brings it to the forefront of our understanding through tourism".
Geotourism is a sister category to ecotourism. Geotourism is distinguished to be focused on abiotic nature and built environments dealing with geology and geomorphology while ecotourism is focused on the living nature dealing with ecology and living things.
Geotourism sectors include:
A geosite is a location that has a particular geological or geomorphological significance. As well as its inherent geological characteristics it may also have cultural or heritage significance.
Geodiversity is the variety of earth materials, forms and processes that constitute and shape the Earth, either the whole or a specific part of it.
According to the Geological Society of Australia, a geotrail "delivers geotourism experiences through a journey linked by an area's geology and landscape as the basis for providing visitor engagement, learning and enjoyment".
A geopark is a unified area that advances the protection and use of geological heritage in a sustainable way, and promotes the economic well-being of the people who live there.
Geoconservation is the practice of recognising, protecting and managing sites and landscapes which have value for their geology or geomorphology. Geoconservation is carried out by a wide range of organisations from local geological societies to government agencies.Typically the conservation of geodiversity at a site or within a landscape takes place alongside that of biodiversity.
For further study, there are seven geotourism reference books:
And some specialized ones on geotourism sectors, such as: