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Developing the Siljan Ring

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    The Siljansrigen is a group of geological heritage sites with an aesthetic appeal which are connected altogether to create a geopark (Europeangeoparks.org, 2014). While demonstrating the heritage of international significance, the purpose of a geopark is to explore, develop and celebrate the links between the geological heritage and all other aspects of the area's natural, cultural and intangible heritages (UNESCO, 2014). The connecting five sites are located in the municipal areas of Leksand, Mora, Orsa and Rättvik which have their own unique interpretation linking the geopark to its cultural heritage (Arnesson, 2014). The development of the interpretative center narrates of how the meteor struck the earth approximately 377 million years ago. The impact was so severe it forced the sedimentary rocks into vertical angles creating a beautiful natural and cultural landscape (Arnesson, 2014).  In order to develop the product, measures have taken to produce a comprehensive experience that does not just involve a random geological feature at a place, but to tell a story about the geological formation due to the meteor impact. It is widely acknowledged that interpretative facilities play an important role within geotourism by learning and expanding a tourist’s aesthetic appreciation of a site to an understanding of its geology (Brozinski, 2010; Dowling and Newsome, 2006).

     

    Underpinning challenges and possible mitigations

    • Lack of understanding of the potential impacts of how the geopark can be used to address significant issues of sustainability. Therefore there is a need to encourage greater collaboration between schools, universities, locals, and business communities and building a cluster of quality services to keep people in the region for longer periods and minimising the seasonality gap between summer and winter seasons (Farsani, Coelho and Costa, 2011). Joining the European Geopark Network can also be a way to capitalise on the experiences and lessons learned leading to innovative management approaches of geoheritage sites (Europeangeoparks.org, 2014).
    • A need to understand the target groups. According to Arnesson (2014), Naturum receives about 30 000 tourist in summer and these visitors are likely not to have specialised knowledge of geology. The focus group is diverse ranging from university students, geologists, families, etc. Richards (2007) adds that tourists are not a homogeneous group and their knowledge, motives, experiences, needs and expectations may differ from one another. For example, storytelling or package should be diversified in order to fit the different target markets especially when dealing with school children, the storyline especially should be easy to understand with animations to spark their interest. Therefore there is a need for product differentiation in order to cater for all the target groups.
    • Efforts are necessary to enhance innovations which involves reforming internal management approaches to achieve constructive alterations such as putting up signs not only written in Swedish along the scenic routes. Other concerns new technologies to use around the site for individual experiences. And lastly stimulating investment and generating economic activities through product development generating an increased visitation and expenditures (Hull, 2010).

     

    References:

    Arnesson, A. (2014) Geopark-excursion in Siljansringen handout. Wsterdahl/Länsstyrelsen.

    Brozinski, A. (2010). Centralised data management approaches in geotourism: a view from Finland. In: R. Dowling and D. Newsome, ed., Geotourism: The Tourism of Geology and Landscape, 1st ed. Oxford: Goodfellow Publisher Limited.

    Dowling, R. and Newsome, D. (eds) (2006) Geotourism, Oxford: Elsevier.

    Europeangeoparks.org, (2014). What is a Geopark. [online] Available at: http://www.europeangeoparks.org/?page_id=165 [Accessed 3 Dec. 2014].

    Farsani, N., Coelho, C. and Costa, C. (2011). Geotourism and geoparks as novel strategies for socio-economic development in rural areas. International Journal of Tourism Research, 13(1), pp.68-81.

     

    Hull, J. (2010). Promoting Geotourism: A case study from Northeast Iceland. In: R. Dowling and D. Newsome, ed., Geotourism: The Tourism of Geology and Landscape, 1st ed. Oxford: Goodfellow Publisher Limited.

    Richards, G. (2007). Cultural tourism. New York: Haworth Hospitality Press.

    UNESCO.org, (2014). Is a Geopark only about geology? | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. [online] Available at: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural...about-geology/ [Accessed 3 Dec. 2014].

     

    By: Wilhelmina Asino

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