Man-Made Impacts on Emerging Geoparks in the Asian Region
Geotourism is an emerging sub-sector of nature-based tourism that attracts a growing number of tourists to geoparks worldwide. Among these, Asian geoparks have become an attractive destination for visitors to experience geological landscapes. To date, there are limited studies available on the environmental impacts of geotourism in Asian geoparks. Here, we present a quantitative review of 26 peer-reviewed publications on geotourism impacts in Asia and discuss how to minimise them. The majority of these studies (64%) originated in China and reports on observational research (68%) rather than experimental research (11%). Data were mainly qualitative (48%) rather than quantitative (19%). Impacts accrued from an inadequate provision of conservation measures and infrastructure (leading to soil erosion), associated agriculture and urbanization, a lack of legislative frameworks and a lack of knowledge of visitors and local communities on how to behave in sensitive geosites. Management measures that appear promising were discussed such as the establishment of frameworks and policies to govern geotourism development along with visitor education and the critical importance of systematic quantitative studies. Both should support the rapidly growing geotourism industry in the Asian region.