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Meteorum: Siljan Ring as a Geo-Park

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    A meteorite impact some hundreds million years ago happened to the region Dalarna and brought Siljan Ring marvelous scenery into existence (Rattvik.se, 2014). Siljan Lake, limestone on the bedrock and the ecosystem trace their origin back to this gigantic meteorite impact. It is believed that, different activities like; limestone quarries & agricultural activities are a results of the impact. Based on these evidences, meteorum project has started to develop the Siljan Ring as a geo-park (Rattvik.se, 2014).
    Meteorum as a Geo-Parks
    In order to consider one place as a geopark, firstly, there should be a geological impact in the area. Secondly, it shall depict the surrounding inhabitant culture (UNESCOa, 2014). As for Meteorum, the meteorite impact in the area which has happened some hundreds million years ago, and its major impacts to the surrounding are the benchmarks for developing the place as a geopark. To develop a geological area as a geo-park certain criteria have to be fulfilled. These criteria can be categorized into three broad themes: conservation, education and geo-tourism (UNESCOb, 2014). On study visit to the place, it was mentioned that the application to join international geo-park network has been sent for approval. From the discussion and observation during the visit, I try to jot down some of the pros & cons of the area with potential solutions in order to develop a place as a geo-park.
    Pros
     Meteorum has a great potential to develop as a geo-park. Meaning, the surrounding magnificent geological phenomenon is a wonderful story to tell the prospective tourist to the site.
     Previous tourist activities to the area have a great deal for the future tourist attractiveness of the geo-park. Re-branding the place as a geo-park product may be needed in the future to reach a broader target groups.
     Being icebreaker as a geo-park in Sweden can be taken as an advantage in order to manipulate potential market in the country without competition. But this can be seen as a difficulty as well.
    Cons
     It was mentioned that, lack of financial source is one of the hindrances faced by the geo-park. Undoubtedly, secured financial sources are needed for the project in order to implement the idea of geo-park. For this matter, Swedish law concerning inhabitants free access to the nature also responsible for not generating income from the park to some
    extent. In order to be sustainable all the three pillars of sustainability has to be considered, since each of them are interrelated (Darlow, Essex & Brayshay, 2012)
     Quite too much sites have been selected to be developed as geo-park sites at a time around the meteoritic impact. Having ambitious plan by itself is not a problem, but it has to be managed accordingly.
     Since the meteorite impact covered a massive area, the selected sites are sparsely scattered within the area. This implies that, the needs for strong visitor management plan since the attractions are nature-based (Albrecht, 2013).
     Lack of experience on regarding geo-parks can be taken as a drawback since meteorum is the first one for the Sweden.
    Potential Solution
    Re-branding the place as a geo-park
    Branding a destination considered as an important marketing strategy to makes the place visible on the map of world tourism (Ndlovu & Heath, 2011). During the visit I came to know that, Siljan Lake has considerable tourist activity especially in the summer. The presence of tourism activity in the area previously may lead the marketing team to consider both branding for new market and re-branding for the existing market in their destination marketing strategy. Rebranding can be explained as, the construction of a new name, phrase, icon, plan or mixture of them for an existed brand with the purpose of developing a differentiated market position (Hosany, Ekinci and Uysal, 2006).
    Adding values on the nature as “a product”
    Based on the Swedish law everybody has free access to the nature. This might be considered as one of the problems for not using the places as a means of income generating. To overcome this issue I believe, adding values to the ‘virgin nature’ can be taken as an option to generate income in order to assure the park sustainability. Providing alternative activities in the park will motivate tourists and inhabitants in order to get a better pleasure from the park than that of self-guided activities in the park.
    Simplifying the story while it keeps its originality will help to attract all kinds of potential tourist to the area. Because story telling of the place has to be compatible to all segments (Bohlin & Brandt, 2014), since to comprehend the place based upon the story might need meteorite impact related background.
    References
    Albrecht, J. (2013). Micro-mobility patterns and service blueprints as foundations for visitor management planning. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 22(7), pp.1052-1070.
    Bohlin, M. and Brandt, D. (2014). Creating tourist experiences by interpreting places using digital guides. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 9(1), pp.1-17.
    Darlow, S., Essex, S. and Brayshay, M. (2012). Sustainable heritage management practices at visited heritage sites in Devon and Cornwall. Journal of Heritage Tourism, 7(3), pp.219-237.
    Hosany, S., Ekinci, Y. and Uysal, M. (2006). Destination image and destination personality: An application of branding theories to tourism places. Journal of Business Research, 59(5), pp.638-642.
    Ndlovu, J. and Heath, E. (2011). Destination Branding in Zimbabwe: From Crisis to Recovery. Tourism Analysis, 16(1), pp.87-97.
    Rattvik.se, (2014). Meteorum. [online] Available at: http://www.rattvik.se/meteorum [Accessed 3 Dec. 2014].
    UNESCOa, (2014). UNESCO. [online] Available at: http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/...guidelines.pdf [Accessed 3 Dec. 2014].
    UNESCOb, (2014). UNESCO. [online] Available at: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/001...00/150007e.pdf [Accessed 3 Dec. 2014].
     
    By Dinberu Tamire Woldemariam

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