Title

Residents’ perceptions of geotourism in Qeshm Island UNESCO Global Geopark, Iran

Author Identifiers

Shahrzad Khodayar
ORCID: 0000-0003-1524-8183

Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business by Research

School

School of Business and Law

First Advisor

Professor Ross Dowling

Second Advisor

Dr Greg Wilson

Field of Research Code

1506

Abstract

While much scholarly attention has explored the impacts of tourism behaviour on a destination, little is known about the effects of geotourism activities on host communities. Geotourism is a type of tourism based on geological features. It has been variously defined as a tourism with a ‘geological’ or ‘geographical’ orientation. This study addresses this gap in the literature by exploring residents’ perceptions of the impacts of geotourism development in the Qeshm UNESCO Global Geopark in the Persian Gulf in Iran. Qeshm Geopark has a sensitive environment as well as a strict traditional culture and it receives about 3 million visitors annually.

The objectives of this study are threefold. Firstly, to enrich the geotourism literature with an analysis of residents’ attitudes. Secondly, to determine the extent of the relationship between geotourism development in Qeshm Geopark and the impacts on local residents. Thirdly, to consider whether locals’ attitudes towards geotourism development in Qeshm Island change over time.

A quantitative method is used to achieve this goal with a sample of 266 residents of Qeshm Island. The data is analysed using a Confirmatory Factor Analysis and Structural Equation Modelling techniques. This study identified four geotourism impact domains and examined the effect of each domains on overall residents’ attitudes toward geotourism development in Qeshm Island. Results indicated that the overall residents’ attitudes are closely associated with their perceptions of positive cultural impacts in Qeshm Island. There is also a positive significant relationship between adverse urban issues and the overall residents’ attitudes in Qeshm Island. However, the residents’ positive perceptions and attitudes are much greater than the negative ones.

The results of this study will enhance the knowledge of residents’ attitudes towards future geotourism development in Qeshm Island. This will help to identify the current problems in planning and management and identify possible solutions for future geotourism development. It should also assist planners in the establishment of tourism development policies and strategies which are informed by residents’ concerns and issues. In addition, it should help them minimise any adverse impacts whilst enhancing the overall benefits associated with geotourism development. This study also hopes to build on scholarly knowledge about geotourism, an important and emerging field.

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