Geotourism is a form of cultural-environmental tourism that can develop in areas with important geological monuments which are exploited in order to attract visitors with special interests.
Geotourism is based on the magic of discovery and the power of authenticity experienced through the contact with the natural heritage of our land.
Being the creative link between Nature and Culture in a region, geotourism can answer new tourist quests and trends, thereby contributing to the development of many regions in the country.
The Greek region constitutes one of the most significant environmental and cultural reserves on Earth, strewn with unique and significant natural geological monuments that are called Geotopes.
The Geotopes are the meeting places of elements recording the geological history of each region. They are the irrefutable witnesses of an everlasting evolution of life on Earth, such as volcanoes, caves, gorges, fossilized areas, large geological rifts, ancient mines, geological formations or landscapes chiseled by natural forces throughout the geological ages. Such sites have a special scientific and aesthetic value and could become areas with significant tourist interest.
Although it is a term only recently introduced in the terminology of local development, geotourism has already found application in many areas in Europe with significant prospects for dynamic continuation and expansion.
Recent efforts to record, upgrade and exploit a number of geological monuments in Greece have produced significant results; the Petrified Forest on the island of Lesvos, the gorges of Samaria on Crete, those of Vikos and Aoos in Epirus, the caves of Alistrati and Petralona in Macedonia and those of Deros and Limnes in Peloponnese, the rock and the waterfalls in Edessa, the rock formations in Meteora, the volcanoes of Santorini and Nisyros, the fossilized areas in Pikermi, Attica, Tilos and Samos, to mention just a few.
Territories that have been integrated in the UNESCO Global Network of Geoparks have become significant destinations attracting large numbers of visitors and contributing to the development of geotourism. In 2015 was approved the UNESCO International Programme « UNESCO Global Geoparks ». At present, there are 127 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 35 countries and 70 Geoparks in Europe, five of whom are found in Greece: the Lesvos Island (2000, 2012), the Psiloritis Natural Park in Crete (2001), the Chelmos-Vouraikos National Park in Peloponnese (2009), the Vikos-Aoos National Forest Park in Epirus (2010) and the Sitia Geopark in Crete (2015).