A GIS-based fuzzy-analytic hierarchy process (F-AHP) for ecotourism suitability decision making: A case study of Babol in Iran
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd Managing ecotourism through appropriate zoning is critical for land use planning. This study is the first to integrate a geographic information system (GIS) with a Fuzzy-Analytic Hierarchy Process (F-AHP) to evaluate the relative importance of physical, natural, environmental, and socio-economic factors for determining the suitability of ecotourism sites. Eleven factors were selected through questionnaire-based surveying of 35 ecotourism and land management experts. F-AHP was applied to weight these factors in order to index and map the suitability of an Iranian case study area for ecotourism using GIS data. A reliable model for the identification of zone suitability was developed which revealed that landform and distance to stream, followed by temperature and elevation were the most important factors for calculating the suitability index. This paper provides useful insights into this novel application of a GIS-based F-AHP for ecotourism planning relevant for policy-makers, planners and practitioners.