Astronomy and Natural Phenomenon Tourism - International - November 2012
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Astronomy and natural phenomenon tourism is not a new concept. People have been travelling for centuries to see the great Italian volcanoes of Vesuvius or Etna, or visit the ancient observatories at Stonehenge and Machu Picchu, and head into the Tuscan hills to see what Galileo saw through one of the world’s first telescopes. Indeed, the constellations and the zodiac were mapped out long before the invention of the telescope.
Perhaps the lure of attempting to understand a phenomenon over which we have no control is part of the attraction of astronomy and natural phenomena. Today, this intrigue has been transformed into a form of tourism that, although being niche (and therefore small in size), follows events so great that mankind can have no impact on their existence. While the effect of tourism on the earth’s fragile ecosystems continues to generate much debate, the products that make up astronomy and natural phenomenon tourism are almost untouchable, and remain one of the world’s great certainties. The precise time of an eclipse is known years in advance. Geysers spurt water from under the earth’s surface with remarkable regularity. Volcanoes may be slightly less predictable in their eruptions, but their simmering presence is never in doubt.
As previously remote locations around the world become more accessible, and demand for unique experiences increases, more and more destinations offering access to natural spectacles will experience increased visitor numbers from around the world. Astronomy and natural phenomenon tourism is diverse in so far as some events (such as eclipses) are outside of the control of destinations, others are a feature of destinations (such as volcanoes and geysers), while others (such as stargazing) can be developed if the conditions are right. Although some destinations have an obvious astronomy and/or natural phenomenon product, most destinations have the opportunity to develop this form of tourism in one way or another.
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