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A GIS-based multiple ecotourism sustainability assessment of West Azerbaijan province, Iran

Davoud Omarzadeh, Samereh Pourmoradian, Bakhtiar Feizizadeh, Hoda Khallaghi, Ayyoob Sharifi and Khalil Valizadeh Kamran

Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 2022, vol. 65, issue 3, 490-513

Abstract: Ecotourism is a major tourism dimension that has received significant attention in recent years. It is widely known that the tourism industry, and in particular ecotourism, makes a significant contribution to sustainable development. In this context, the West Azerbaijan province is one of most important tourist destinations in Iran for attracting tourists interested in nature. The main purpose of this study was to analyze and map the potential for sustainable ecotourism development. The research methodology was developed based on GIS multi-criteria decision analysis (GIS-MCDA) techniques, using 28 spatial indicators. For this purpose, areas with the potential for attracting tourists were identified and the effective factors for increasing and decreasing tourism development activities were evaluated by GIS analysis. The method used as a multi-criteria spatial decision-making technique is based on the network analysis process and its combination with fuzzy logic is very effective for increasing the accuracy of the model and obtaining more realistic results. According to the results of this study, West Azerbaijan, due to its potential, including some areas unknown to tourists and even tourism planners, could be introduced as a nature tourism hub in the northwest of the country. The detailed tourism sustainability map obtained, at the scale of 1/25,000, could be used as a basis for regional planning and sustainable ecotourism development. In this context, the results could also be critical for tourism companies, agencies and local stakeholders and organizations for various applications, such as investment and development of tourism hospitality facilities and infrastructure in high potential areas. The research can also be considered as progressive in tourism research and supports future research on the selection of beneficial criteria and the application of efficient methods for tourism sustainability assessment and mapping.

Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2021.1887827

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