Global Network of National Geoparks

Geotourism in Scotland: Developing a national network of sites to promote earth heritage awareness

Published :March 18, 2008
R. Wignall, J. Gordon & C. Macfadyen
Scottish Natural Heritage, 2 Anderson Place, Edinburgh EH6 5NP, Scotland, UK

Keywords: Geotourism, site networks, earth heritage interpretation, Scotland

Rocks and landforms are the basis for most of Scotland's famous landscapes and scenery which are the main attraction of the country as a tourist destination. In the last decade there has been significant progress in promoting Earth heritage awareness for visitors using a variety of media, culminating in the launch of Scotland's first Geopark and the development of further proposals. Much has been achieved through collaboration and partnerships among a variety of interested organizations and wider recognition of the need to adopt good interpretive practice. To promote Scotland's Earth heritage in an integrated manner to both geologists and non-specialists, a collaborative national system of 'hub and satellite'networks is proposed, using the Knockan Grag visitor 'hub' and its Rock Route 'satellite sites' in the North West Highlands Geopark as a model. Potential future 'hub and satellite' networks have been identified for the whold of Scotland, ensuring that all likely geotourism site are included in workable regional network which can highlight the geodiversity of each region. A visitor survey carried out at Knockan Crag also suggests that a proposal for sites in individual networks to be linked at a national level through common themes (e.g. coasts, volcanism, glaciation) would be popular with visitors. Such a framework would increase the accessibility of Scotland's Earth heritage to the wider public, and allow areas such as Geoparks or individually interpreted sites to benefit from a national promotion scheme.