Climate change and geotourism: impacts, challenges and opportunities

John E. Gordon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Climate change and rising sea levels present significant challenges for geotourism destinations and activities. Accelerated changes in geomorphological processes threaten or diminish both the physical existence and aesthetic qualities of geoheritage assets, and hence the visitor experience, as well as presenting increased or new risks from natural hazards. This is particularly a concern in mountain and coastal areas, and also where greater extremes of temperature and precipitation affect visitor comfort. A literature review was conducted to assess the extent to which the consequences of climate change have been recognised in geotourism research. With the exception of glacier-based geotourism, few studies have considered the impacts of climate change and reported the planning or development of adaptation measures. However, the didactic potential of geotourism in raising awareness of climate change has been commonly recognised. A review of the wider tourism literature identified additional destination-supply and visitor-demand issues that will affect the sustainability of geotourism in the face of climate change. These include changes in visitor motivations, travel behaviour, perceptions of destination image, and reactions to local, national, and international mitigation and adaptation responses, as well as geoethical considerations around carbon footprints and sustainable modes of travel. Situating geotourism within a broader body of multidisciplinary tourism research should help inform adaptation strategies in conjunction with measures to adapt to the physical impacts of climate change on geotourism sites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)514-538
Number of pages25
JournalTourism and Hospitality
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2023


  • Geoheritage
  • Geoparks
  • Risk assessment
  • Adaptation
  • Sustainability
  • Geoethics
  • Research gaps


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