Geotourism: Definition, characteristics and international perspectives

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

Handbook of Geotourism


Edward Elgar Publishing

Place of Publication

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK


Dowling, R. & Newsome, D.


School of Business and Law




Dowling, R. K. & Newsome, D. (2018). Geotourism: Definition, characteristics and international perspectives. In Dowling, R. & Newsome, D. (Eds.), Handbook of Geotourism (pp 1-25). Edward Elgar Publishing.


Geotourism is tourism based on geological features. Over time it has been variously described as being a type of tourism that is either ‘geological’ or geographical’ in orientation. Whereas the former view was that geotourism was a ‘type’ of tourism in a similar vein to ecotourism, the latter view was wider and encompassed it thereby representing a new ‘approach’ to tourism. Over a decade ago we espoused the former view that geotourism is a niche form of natural area tourism based on geology and landscape (Dowling and Newsome, 2006). Four years later we added to the definition by suggesting the fact that geotourism could be undertaken through either ‘independent visits’ or ‘guided tours’ to geological features (Newsome and Dowling, 2010). We had also broadened the exclusively ‘natural area’ focus of geotourism, in that unlike ecotourism which is restricted to natural areas, geotourism can occur wherever there is interesting geology or geological features. Thus it is now understood that geotourism can take place in urban areas in addition to natural areas, that is, anywhere where geological features can be considered as tourist attractions.

Access Rights