An example of geotourist promotion in a glacial and karstic sensitive area

Category Other
Group GSI.IR
Location International Geological Congress,oslo 2008
Author Reynard, Emmanuel; Martin, Simon
Holding Date 23 September 2008

Tsanfleuron is an alpine glacio-karstic area situated in the Helvetic domain, Western Switzerland. The site, that covers a surface of more or less 10 square kilometres has been recognised as geosite of national significance due to rareness (glacier sliding on a large limestone surface), aesthetic and pedagogical criteria. A first research concluded that due to a lack of territorial planning and co-ordination of tourist development the area suffered important impacts by tourist activities (e.g. 4W-drive safaris, winter skiing) and infrastructures (roads, mountain huts) during the 1990s. Unfortunately no official protection of the site was accepted until now even if several visits with politicians, scientists and environmental organisations were organised. Nevertheless, in 2008, a project was launched with the objective to collect, organise and diffuse the scientific information concerning the geosite and to organise the basis for the development of geotourism activities in the area. This paper presents the five steps of the research. In a first stage, all the available data - several geological, geomorphological, as well as ancient and recent topographic maps, numerous pictures showing i.e. the tremendous glacier retreat, scientific papers etc. - were organised in a database processed by a GIS application. From this database three groups of "geotourist products" were created. The first one concerns scientific panels placed at three points of entrance to the site (a bus stop at the top of pass, an hotel and the top of a cableway). The panels give three types of information (practical information on hiking in karstic areas, geomorphological data, information on climate change and glacier retreat). We have renounced to place panels in the karstic area due to landscape and environmental impacts. The second kind of products is the creation of digital animations proposing "virtual field trips"; they will be placed at the entrances of the site, as well as in tourist offices and on several tourist and institutional websites. Finally, we have published a “geotourist map” of the karstic area. The creation of the map was an opportunity to discuss mapping issues like simplification of geological data, the use of graphics, combination of tourist classical data and scientific information, development of specific legend.