Developing geotourism with a focus on geoheritage in a transboundary region: the case of the Curonian Spit, a UNESCO site
Recreation in protected areas (PAs) has received special attention amid international travel restrictions. The conflict between the conservation and economic use of these territories is increasing. This work aims to find ways to optimise and modernise environmental outreach and recreation in national parks as a type of PAs. Geotourism is viewed here as a sustainable form of tourism bridging the gap between conservation and recreation. Several objectives have been attained to fulfil this aim. The first one was the analysis of the best practices of geotourism development in Pas; the second one was measuring the resource potential for diversifying ecotourism events in PAs; the third objective was designing an algorithm for creating a geological heritage-focused eco-trail, an innovative recreation product aimed at environmental education and community outreach. The authors view the methodology for geo-tour design as an example of heritage preservation and propose a new tourist trail — the Geological and Geomorphological Chronicle of the Baltic Sea. This tour acquaints sightseers with the nature of the Curonian Spit National Park, a unique geological and geomorphological feature whose landscapes are a product of centuries-long human-nature interactions. Twenty years ago, in 2000, the conservation area was listed by UNESCO as a place of considerable natural significance. The field studies were carried out as part of the international project Ecotour4Natur: Ecotourism as a Tool for the Preservation of Natural and Cultural Heritage within the Lithuania-Russia Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2014—2020. The developed algorithm for eco-trail design may benefit other national parks as well.