TEHRAN – Geotourism is an important sector in Iran due to the country’s special geological structure, an official with the tourism ministry has said.
“Due to its unique geological structure, Iran has a special capability in the field of geotourism,” IRNA quoted Seyyed Mostafa Fatemi Firuzabadi as saying on Tuesday.
The development of this sector can contribute significantly to the protection of the land and to the development of local communities on cultural, economic, and social levels, the official explained.
There are several items that must be addressed by the tourism ministry, including identifying geotourism destinations, addressing geopark issues and solutions, diversifying geotourism activities, and developing education and human resources for tourism, he added.
Therefore, a section dedicated to geotourism has recently been set up in the tourism ministry, he noted.
A comprehensive action plan on geotourism development, as well as preparation of regulations and instructions, should be a high priority for the tourism ministry, he mentioned.
The ministry should also focus on the conservation approach and sustainable development in geotourism, mechanisms related to planning for education, empowerment of local communities, the provision of necessary infrastructure, advertising, introduction, and attraction of geotourists, he stated.
In line for inscription
To develop and promote this branch of tourism, a number of Iranian geoparks including Tabas and Aras geoparks are in line for possible inscriptions on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s Global Geoparks list.
In May 2017, UNESCO included Iran’s southern Qeshm Island on its Global Geoparks list. Qeshm embraces a wide range of ecotourism attractions such as the Hara marine forests and about 60 villages dotted mostly across its rocky coastlines. The island has an abundance of wildlife, including birds, reptiles, dolphins, and turtles as well.
Tabas Geopark, which is situated in a vast county of the same name in east-central Iran, has enormous potential to be registered as “the biggest geopark” in the West Asia region.
Sprawled in the eastern province of South Khorasan, Tabas Geopark includes a variety of scenic landscapes and untouched terrains with the mysterious Kal-e Jeni (canyon of Jinn) located in Azmighan village, among them.
Situated in East Azarbaijan province, Aras Geopark covers an area of about 1670 square kilometers, sprawling across the whole Jolfa county. The topography is generally extremely steep and forms astonishing landscapes so the highest point in the Jolfa region is the Kiyamaki mount with 3347 meters and the lowest points include the northern boundary and the Aras River valley with 720 to 390 meters.
It has an appropriate geo-tourism attraction, because of its mountainous landscapes, an outcropping of different sedimentary and igneous rocks, diversity in tectonic structures, semi-cold and semi-arid climate, and diverse flora and fauna.
Experts believe that the majority of geoparks help promote awareness of geological hazards, including volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis and many help prepare disaster mitigation strategies with local communities. Geoparks embody records of past climate changes and are indicators of current climate changes as well.
A UNESCO Global Geopark fosters socio-economic development that is culturally and environmentally sustainable directly affecting the area by improving human living conditions and the rural environment. It gives local people a sense of pride in their region, strengthens public identification with the area, and promotes a better understanding of the area’s geological, natural, archaeological, cultural, and industrial heritage.
What is geotourism?
Geotourism is defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the distinctive geographical character of a place—its environment, heritage, aesthetics, culture, and the well-being of its residents.
Many experts believe that geotourism is not a niche market as the global population of travelers increases and destinations become more globalized and homogenous, principles of geotourism are resonating with travelers across the globe.
Original News : https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/473895/Geotourism-still-has-untapped-potential-in-Iran