GEOTOURISM POTENTIAL IN THE CONTEXT OF THE GEOPARK PROJECT FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF SANTA ELENA PROVINCE, ECUADOR
Free (open access)
557 - 568
GRICELDA HERRERA, PAÚL CARRIÓN, JOSUÉ BRIONES
The territory of Ancon-Santa Elena stands out for its unique geological diversity which has peculiar characteristics due to the relationships of geodiversity and exuberant biodiversity linked to the marine coastal area. Ancon-Santa Elena is recognized as Cultural Heritage of Ecuador for its great historical value, as it is the place where tar was used in ancient times. In this place, the first Ecuadorian oil well was drilled. Thus, Ancon-Santa Elena is considered an ideal and relevant rural location to carry out a Geopark project due to its uniqueness and aesthetic characteristics. The aim of the research is to analyze the geotourism potential in Ancon-Santa Elena area in Ecuador through the assessment of geosites and industrial sites. Furthermore, the objective is to set up strategies with a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT-TOWS) matrix of the 45 valued sites for local development in the context of the Ancon-Santa Elena Geopark project. Hence, the methodology includes: i) the registration and preliminary inventory of places with outstanding geological and industrial interest in the study area; ii) the preparation of reports and thematic cartographies; iii) quantitative assessment and classification of geosites and industrial sites; iv) development of a SWOT-TOWS matrix which will guarantee the viability of Geotourism as a development pole. The results of the research study are represented through a map using mineral routes as expression of tourism, choosing six relevant sites out of 45 geo- and industrial sites. The researchers focused on a sustainability framework through the preparation of action strategies to ease the compatibility of geodiversity and industrial heritage with current tourism activities. Therefore, this study promotes the conservation and enhancement of the resources in a territory for its sustainable development in rural communities.
Ancon-Santa Elena Geopark, geotourism, sustainable development