Engaging visitors – CS 3

Booking places on Geotours for members of the public

a case study provided by Basque Coast UNESCO Global Geopark, Spain

Geotourism is one of the fundamental activities enabling a Geopark to work in support of the local sustainable development of the area and its inhabitants. It needs to exert a clear economic impact, and to achieve this, a Geopark has to be capable of designing an attractive geotourism programme as part of its offer for tourists.

Visitors learn about the ‘Flysch’ coast on a boat tour from Zumaia

The reality of many Geoparks is that they find themselves outside the main tourism flows and circuits and most of the activities on offer are geared towards groups of school-children or other types of groups. The great challenge facing these Geoparks is therefore to develop a geotourism offer for private individuals that enables the programme of guided visits to be maintained throughout the year.

A group of visitors at Algorri

The Basque Coast UGGp, in particular the coastal outcrop known as the Flysch, brings together the ingredients needed to turn a geological resource into a tourism resource: 1) It is an international scientific reference; 2) It is highly spectacular and is located on the coast; 3) It is easily accessible on foot and by boat; and 4) It is supplemented by other items of natural and cultural interest, as well as good general infrastructure for tourism.

Booking opportunity for guided tours at www.geoparkea.eus

Every year since 2010, the Geopark has organised a programme of guided visits with a prearranged calendar and geared towards private individuals. This programme, which in 2018 offered nearly 1,300 guided visits to the main resources, allows private individuals or small groups to join a guided excursion which would be unaffordable if it had to be undertaken on their own initiative. After these seven years of operation and looking at the data we can say that the initiative has been a success.

The carrying out of the guided visits is put out to public tender and it is the successful bidding enterprise that is responsible for running them. The bookings are managed by means of an online tool through the www.geoparkea.com website which allows the tourist bureaus to work in a network with updated information.

This programme of guided visits is the main means for promoting the Geopark. This has been the spirit underpinning the visits ever since they were started, and so the losses they incurred were regarded as promotional expenditure. Over the years this promotional expenditure has made its effect felt in the increase in visitor numbers and, as a result, in the profitability of the programme of visits.