Modeling the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of nature-based tourism to the host communities and their support for tourism : perceptions of local population, Mazandaran, north of Iran
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Department of Geography
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Kurzfassung auf Deutsch:
Mazandaran province became one of the first tourism-oriented provinces in Iran in the last decades. In these years, Mazandaran has continued to attract people’s attention to its tourism opportunities and especially towards its nature-based tourism potentials. Given the importance of understanding local community attitudes, this thesis provide a model to assess local population’s perceptions of socioeconomic and environmental impacts of nature-based tourism and its relationship with support for tourism development in Mazandaran.
In order to examine local community perceptions of nature-based tourism impacts in Mazandaran and their support for tourism development, local residents who have lived at least for one consecutive year in Babolsar or Kelardasht were sampled. The thesis findings suggest that residents appreciated tourism for increasing job opportunities, development of recreational facilities and spaces, creating a positive feeling about area among tourists, and enhancing social relationships between tourists and residents.
However, unbridled, unplanned, and unmanaged development of tourism in Mazandaran in past years has led to widespread environmental degradation and the destruction of tourism resources and has intensified increasing the cost of living of local people. Because of the uncontrolled construction, there have been major changes in coastal areas. In other words, public and private villas, shops, restaurants, airport, and hotels cover around 95% of coastal areas in touristic regions that are not accessible to tourists and seashore has become the “exclusive courtyard” for tourist villas.
The occupation of beaches, water pollution and impose severe restrictions for tourists in coastal zones, has led to the “counter-beach” phenomenon in Mazandaran. The change in the flow of coastal tourists affects the neighboring regions particularly Caspian plain, forests and mountainous areas and resulted in major environmental and social degradations.
Environmental degradation, deforestation, and destruction of coastal areas are increasing and the nature-based tourism resources of mazandaran are declining. Therefore, implications and recommendations derived from the results and based on proposed model are suggested.
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