The Scenic Beauty of Geosites and Its Relation to Their Scientific Value and Geoscience Knowledge of Tourists: A Case Study from Southeastern Spain
Scenic beauty is one of the most-commonly used indicators in the inventory and assessment of geosites for geoconservation, geoheritage management and geotourism development. It is an important driver of tourists to visit natural areas and it also provides support for the protection of natural heritage. Previous studies on scenic beauty mainly focused on landscape preference and physical characteristics of geosites that affect scenic beauty appreciation. The relationships between the scenic
... een the scenic beauty of geosites, their scientific value and the geoscience knowledge of tourists has not been empirically investigated in detail. Hence, this study investigates this relationship using 34 geosites from southeastern Spain. For this purpose, 29 respondents with a geoscience background and who all visited the 34 geosites, 43 respondents with a geoscience background but who did not visit the geosites, and 104 respondents with no geoscience background and who did not visit the geosites, participated in a survey. The first group rated the scenic beauty and the scientific value of the geosites based on a direct field visit during which the scientific background of these geosites was given. On the other hand, the latter two groups rated scenic beauty using representative photos of the geosites. A five-point Likert scale was used to rate the scenic beauty and the scientific value of the geosites. We found a significant relationship between the scenic beauty of geosites and their scientific value, and this relationship becomes more significant if the geoscientific knowledge of the respondents increases. One-way ANOVA results indicated that a geoscience background contributed to higher perceived scenic beauty, especially for those geosites that in general were considered as more scenic by all the respondent groups. It was also found that geosites with viewpoints received in general higher scenic beauty and scientific value ratings.