Geological sustainable tourism aims to conserve and promote a place as a geosite, such as the Iguazu Falls in South America

Geotourism is tourism associated with geological attractions and destinations.[1] Geotourism (tourism with a geological base) deals with the abiotic natural and built environments.[2] Geotourism was first defined in England by Thomas Alfred Hose in 1995.[3]

Definitions of modern geotourism

Geopark of Paleorrota, in Brazil

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:

  1. "...part of the tourist's activity in which they have the geological patrimony as their main attraction. Their objective is to search for protected patrimony through the conservation of their resources and of the tourist's Environmental Awareness. For that, the use of the interpretation of the patrimony makes it accessible to the lay public, promoting its popularization and the development of the Earth sciences".[4]
  2. "Geotourism is a knowledge-based tourism, an interdisciplinary integration of the tourism industry with conservation and interpretation of abiotic nature attributes, besides considering related cultural issues, within the geosites for the general public".[2]
  3. "A form of natural area tourism that specifically focuses on landscape and geology. It promotes tourism to geosites and the conservation of geo-diversity and an understanding of Earth sciences through appreciation and learning. This is achieved through independent visits to geological features, use of geo-trails and viewpoints, guided tours, geo-activities and patronage of geosite visitor centers".[5]
  4. "The provision of interpretative and service facilities for geosites and geomorphosites and their encompassing topography, together with their associated in-situ and ex-situ artefacts, to constituency-build for their conservation by generating appreciation, learning and research by and for current and future generations".[3]

Geotourism (abiotic nature-based tourism), a new approach

According to Sadry (2009),in the past, nature-based tourism activities largely focused on living things (namely biotic nature attractions/biodiversity phenomena).As a result, visiting natural areas and their unique flora and fauna, gradually led to the development of ecotourism, wildlife tourism, and other similar tourism types. Recently, in the 21st century, geotourism has emerged to deal with non-living parts of the natural environment. Geological features and landforms are examples of abiotic nature or geodiversity phenomena.[6]

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.

Official launch of the Dogu'a Tembien geo-trekking guide

"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 holistic approach to tourism is growing rapidly around the world and It is powering UNESCO Global Geoparks which are now on virtually every continent[7] 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".[5]

Comparison with ecotourism

Geotourism is often confused with ecotourism, due to close definitions of the terms. Geotourism is geodiversity-centred while ecotourism is biodiversity-centred. Geotourism activities focus on providing the recreation geology contexts for visitors. Three core elements within the concept of geotourism have been recognised that distinguish this concept from ecotourism, namely: 1. Abiotic nature as the main attraction;2. Geological heritage interpretation; and 3. Positive outcomes for nature and local residents 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.[8][9]


Geotourism sectors include:[10][11][12][13]

Geotourism Marketing

Geotourism stakeholders are the local people, geo-visitors, travel agencies, business owners, etc., just like the tourism stakeholders.Schools and universities could also be considered as stakeholders in geotourism when discussing geopark development. Marketing strategies practiced in UNESCO Global Geoparks include professional internal and external marketing tools such as brochures, magazines, newsletters, websites, social media platforms; as well as public relation activities, such as participating trade shows; advertising campaigns and even joint marketing through networking on regional, national, and international level.[14] Since geotourism emphasizes the abiotic nature, environmental protection, and the local community, it is important that destinations, such as geoparks, focus their marketing efforts for geotourism in a sustainable manner; so that, the environment including the geoheritages and the local community would benefit most.[15]


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.[citation needed]


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.The term geodiversity is strongly linked to other neologisms such as geoconservation, geoheritage or even geo-indicators. All these terms promote the idea that human activities threaten the diversity of rocks, soils and landforms as well as the dynamics of the processes that generate them.[16]


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".[citation needed]


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. Geotourism has been developed from an unknown niche trend to an approach in the tourism industry since 2004, due to the UNESCO support for the global geopark movement in the 21st century. The potential activities within geoparks ranging from visiting cultural heritage to natural attractions, agriculture, and even dark tourism.


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.

See also


  1. ^ Dowling, R. & Newsome, D. (Eds.)(2006) Geotourism ; Elsevier, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford
  2. ^ a b Sadry, B.N.(2009)Fundamentals of Geotourism: with special emphasis on Iran, SAMT Organization publishers,Tehran.220p.(English Summary available Online at:
  3. ^ a b Hose, T. A. (2012), "3G's for Modern Geotourism", Geoheritage Journal, 4: 7-24
  4. ^ Ruchkys U de A (2007) Patrimônio Geológico e Geoconservação no Quadrilátero Ferrífero, Minas Gerais: potencial para criação de um geoparque da UNESCO. Tese de Doutorado—Instituto de Geociências, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Minas Gerais, Brazil
  5. ^ a b Newsome,D. and Dowling, R.K.(Eds.)(2010) Geotourism: The Tourism of Geology and Landscape, Oxford: Goodfellow Publishers
  6. ^ Sadry,B.N.; Mohamed Abdel Maksoud, K.; Zahabnazouri, S. (2023) Geotourism Development in the Middle East: A comparative study of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Jordan. In: Stella Kladou and Konstantinos Andriotis and Anna Farmaki and Dimitrios Stylidis (Ed.) Tourism Development and Planning in the Middle East; CABI, UK (pp. 126-141)
  7. ^ Allan, M., Dowling, R. (eds)(2023) Geotourism in the Middle East (Geoheritage, Geoparks and Geotourism). Springer, Cham
  8. ^ Sadry, B.N. (Ed.) (2021) The Geotourism Industry in the 21st Century: The Origin, Principles, and Futuristic Approach;Palm Bay, Florida: Apple Academic Press
  9. ^ Sadry, B.N. & Fehrest, F. (2022) 'Geotourism Marketing'. In: D. Buhalis (ed.), Encyclopedia of Tourism Management and Marketing,(Volume 2) Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing(pp. 415–418).
  10. ^ Sadry,B.N.(2021) Space and Celestial Geotourism.In: B.N.Sadry (Ed.) The Geotourism Industry in the 21st Century: The Origin, Principles, and Futuristic Approach; Palm Bay,Florida: Apple Academic Press(pp. 481-506)
  11. ^ Maghsoudi, M., Moradi, A. & Moradipour, F. Aerial Geotourism: New Branch of Geotourism for Promoting Geoconservation (Examples from Iran). Geoheritage 13, 4 (2021).
  12. ^ Erfurt-Cooper, P.& Cooper, M. (Eds.)(2010)Volcano and Geothermal Tourism:Sustainable Geo-Resources for Leisure and Recreation; Routledge Publishing
  13. ^ Allan, M.(2021) Accessible Geotourism: Constraints and Implications. In: B.N.Sadry (Ed.) The Geotourism Industry in the 21st Century: The Origin, Principles, and Futuristic Approach; Palm Bay, Florida: Apple Academic Press(pp. 473-479)
  14. ^ Frey, M.L., 2021. Geotourism—Examining Tools for Sustainable Development. Geosciences, 11(1), p.30.
  15. ^ Sadry, B.N. & Fehrest, F. (2022) 'Geotourism Marketing'. In: D. Buhalis (ed.), Encyclopedia of Tourism Management and Marketing,(Volume 2) Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing(pp. 415–418).
  16. ^ GRAY, Murray (2004) Geodiversity, valuing and conserving abiotic nature. J. Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 434 p.

Further reading

In a 500-word news article in 2020, one author (B.N. Sadry) mentioned many books on geotourism and chose their seven major reference books:[1]

And some specialized ones on geotourism sectors, such as:

There are also other books, including:

  1. ^ Sadry,B.N., Geotourism Books: An overview on Geoconservation Concept through Geotourism, ProGeo News 2020: no.4, p.2
  2. ^ Dowling, R. & Newsome, D. (Eds.)(2006) Geotourism ; Elsevier, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford
  3. ^ Dowling, R. & Newsome, D. (Eds.) (2010) Global Geotourism Perspectives; Oxford: Goodfellow Publishers
  4. ^ Newsome,D. and Dowling, R.K. (Eds.)(2010) Geotourism: The Tourism of Geology and Landscape, Oxford: Goodfellow Publishers
  5. ^ Hose, T.A. (Ed.)(2016) Geoheritage and Geotourism: A European Perspective; Boydell Press, UK
  6. ^ Reynard, E. & Brilha, J. (Eds.) (2018) Geoheritage : Assessment, Protection, and Management, Amsterdam: Elsevier
  7. ^ Dowling, R. & Newsome, D. (Eds.) (2018) A Handbook of Geotourism, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing
  8. ^ Sadry, B.N. (Ed.) (2021) The Geotourism Industry in the 21st Century: The Origin, Principles, and Futuristic Approach;Palm Bay,Florida: Apple Academic Press.
  9. ^ Erfurt-Cooper, P.& Cooper, M. (Eds.)(2010) Volcano and Geothermal Tourism: Sustainable Geo-Resources for Leisure and Recreation; Routledge Publishing
  10. ^ Erfurt-Cooper, Patricia (Eds.)(2014)Volcanic Tourist Destinations; Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
  11. ^ Erfurt, Patricia (2021)The Geoheritage of Hot Springs: Geoheritage, Geoparks and Geotourism; Springer Nature Switzerland AG
  12. ^ The Principles of Geotourism (2015) Co-authored by A. Chen, L. Yunting & C.Y.N. Ng; Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
  13. ^ Singh, R. B., Wei, Dongying, Anand, Subhash (Eds.)(2021) Global Geographical Heritage, Geoparks and Geotourism: Geoconservation and Development; Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd
  14. ^ Braga, V., Duarte, A., Marques, C. S. (Eds.)(2022) Economics and Management of Geotourism; Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
  15. ^ Drinia, H., Voudouris, P., Antonarakou, A. (Eds.)(2022) Geoheritage and Geotourism Resources: Education, Recreation, Sustainability; Basel, Switzerland: MDPI
  16. ^ Allan, M., Dowling, R. (Eds.)(2023) Geotourism in the Middle East (Geoheritage, Geoparks and Geotourism). Springer, Cham.