The term “geotourism” describes a style of travel that is as concerned with seeing new sights as it is with sustaining local communities, habitats, and terrains. Most of the time, geotourism trips center on cultural education. Visitors sightsee and explore, but through the lens of local residents. They strive to experience life as the locals do, in everything from lodging to meals and daily activities. In many respects, this type of travel is a lot like cultural immersion, though facets of fun, be they mountain walks, beach visits, or rain forest hikes, are usually at the core.
Geotourism is often touted as a form of “sustainable vacationing” or “sustainable tourism.” This usually means that trips are designed to be as low-impact as possible. Much of the movement underlying this sort of travel was born out of the fear that more traditional tourist activities not only leach resources out of local communities, but also misrepresent the true nature of places.
Participants in sustainable tourism are usually looking for a vacation that will allow them to connect with a locale. This usually means shying away from big resorts and fancy restaurants that cater to out-of-town visitors. Instead, travelers meet with locals, stay in smaller inns or bed-and-breakfasts that are operated by permanent residents, and take their bearings from what the community considers valuable.
Particularly outgoing travelers can often engage in geotourism on their own, simply by arriving in a place and looking for integration. For others who may not be so bold, organized trips are often a better option. Many different local communities, particularly those situated around attractive locations or natural history sites, publish geotourism resources that give suggestions on things to do and places to go. More formal organizations may also put trips together for interested participants.
Professional geotourism outfits often combine elements of ecotourism and agritourisim in with their trips. Ecotourism is a form of vacationing that seeks to give back to the land being visited, often by doing conservation work, habitat restoration, or wilderness cleanup. It often blends well with more geographically-conscious travel by allowing tourists to feel like they are not only a part of the host community, but are also leaving it better than they found it. This sort of work is most popular on trips to remote locations.
Agritourism is a type of vacation in which visitors immerse themselves in farm life, often in countries or locales foreign to their own, as a means of gaining deeper appreciation for sustainability and local food sourcing. Geotourists can easily add farming aspects to their cultural immersion, particularly if the locations they are visiting are agricultural hubs. Engaging in local farm life is often an important part of travels to agricultural communities, and is a key way of engaging in best practice tourism in these places. Farm stays are usually arranged through professional sustainability organizations, but can sometimes be done through private arrangement, as well.