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Astronomy and Natural Phenomenon Tourism - International - November 2012

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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Table of contents

  1. Introduction

      • Definitions
        • Astronomy tourism
          • Natural phenomenon tourism
          • Data Sources

            • Astronomy Tourism

              • Eclipses
                • Figure 1: Calendar of total solar eclipses, 2012-23
                • Figure 2: Lunar eclipses, 2012-20
              • Solar eclipses
                • Lunar eclipses
                  • Stargazing
                    • Dark skies for stargazing
                        • Figure 3: Travel+Leisure’s top stargazing spots, 2012
                      • Destinations
                        • Australia
                          • Chile
                            • China
                              • Costa Rica
                                • Italy
                                  • Namibia
                                    • South Africa
                                      • UK
                                        • US
                                        • Natural Phenomenon Tourism

                                          • The Northern Lights
                                            • Destinations
                                              • Alaska
                                                • Canada
                                                  • Greenland
                                                    • Iceland
                                                      • Norway
                                                        • Russia
                                                          • Sweden
                                                            • Outside the zone
                                                              • Volcanoes
                                                                • Figure 4: Top ten historic volcanic eruptions, 2012
                                                                • Figure 5: The world’s most active volcanoes, 2012
                                                              • Destinations
                                                                • Africa
                                                                  • Americas
                                                                    • Asia
                                                                      • Australasia
                                                                        • Europe
                                                                          • Geysers and hot springs
                                                                            • Figure 6: Geysers in Yellowstone National Park, 2012
                                                                          • Destinations
                                                                            • Chile
                                                                              • Iceland
                                                                                • Japan
                                                                                  • New Zealand
                                                                                    • Russia
                                                                                      • US
                                                                                        • Figure 7: Geyser fields in the US, 2012
                                                                                      • Tornadoes
                                                                                        • Figure 8: The Fujita Scale, 2007
                                                                                        • Figure 9: Enhanced Fujita Scale, 2012
                                                                                        • Figure 10: Top 10 worst tornadoes in US history to 2011
                                                                                      • Destinations
                                                                                      • Market Size and Characteristics

                                                                                        • Who’s travelling?
                                                                                          • ‘Professional amateur’ astronomers
                                                                                            • Adventure astronomers
                                                                                              • Natural wonders adventurers
                                                                                                • Hard or soft adventurers?
                                                                                                  • Figure 11: Adventure-travel categories, 2012
                                                                                                • How big is the market?
                                                                                                    • Figure 12: Annual visitor numbers to selected attractions, 2011
                                                                                                • Tour Operators

                                                                                                    • Astronomy holiday operators
                                                                                                      • Astro Trails (UK)
                                                                                                        • Eclipse Tours (US)
                                                                                                          • Explorers Astronomy Tours (UK)
                                                                                                            • Melitatrips (US)
                                                                                                              • Responsible Travel (UK)
                                                                                                                • QuasarChile (QC) (Chile)
                                                                                                                  • Operators specialising in natural phenomena
                                                                                                                    • Bigfoot Nicaragua (Nicaragua)
                                                                                                                      • Cloud 9 Tours (US)
                                                                                                                        • Exodus (UK)
                                                                                                                          • F5! Tornado Chasing Safaris (US)
                                                                                                                            • The Aurora Zone (UK)
                                                                                                                              • Volcano Live (UK)
                                                                                                                                • Volcano Discovery (UK)
                                                                                                                                • What Next?

                                                                                                                                  • Dark-sky developments
                                                                                                                                    • Chile retains status as leading stargazing destination
                                                                                                                                      • Space tourism will reinvigorate interest in astronomy
                                                                                                                                        • Disasters bring in the visitors

                                                                                                                                        Astronomy and Natural Phenomenon Tourism - International - November 2012

                                                                                                                                        US $377.39 (Excl.Tax)