Geoparks in SE Poland as Areas of Tourism Development: Current State and Future Prospects
Geoparks currently form the basis for the development of geotourism and, therefore, proposals of new geoparks are developed in many countries, including Poland, where over 20 locations for geoparks have been proposed so far. Two national geoparks have been established thus far, while another two have received the status of UNESCO Global Geoparks None of them are located in the Carpathian Mountains. Simultaneously south-eastern Poland—the Podkarpackie Province—boasts valuable geoheritage, biotic
... and cultural assets. In the past, having regard for the geological heritage, several research teams proposed the creation of three geoparks encompassing the existing landscape parks in that area. However, these were proposals based solely on scientific values. The objective of the study was to comprehensively assess their tourism potential, with a particular focus on geoheritage assets. The assessment has made it possible to determine to what extent these assets meet the conditions necessary for the functioning of this type of areas, i.e., the occurrence of diverse tourist assets, well-developed infrastructure and appropriate development potential. The assessment method used is based on 25 indices forming six groups. The analyses have been carried out for districts lying within the proposed geoparks. It has been found that the analysed area has a sufficiently high geoheritage potential that can be the basis for the functioning of two geoparks. The tourist infrastructure—particularly accommodation and catering facilities and geotourist trails—needs to be expanded and improved. It is particularly important to encourage local communities to become involved and engage in business activity within the geopark.