ORIGINAL RESEARCH
Ecotourism Suitability and Zoning from the Tourist Perspective: a Nature Reserve Case Study
Wenjie Wu1,2, Xiaolei Zhang1, Zhaoping Yang1, Wenmin Qin3, Fang Wang4, Cuirong Wang1,2
 
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1Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences,
Urumqi 830011, People’s Republic of China
2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100039, People’s Republic of China
3School of Resource & Environmental Science,
Wuhan University, Wuhan 430079, People’s Republic of China
4Commercial Institute of Zhejiang Lishui College,
Lishui 311301, People’s Republic of China
Publish date: 2015-11-27
Submission date: 2015-08-06
Final revision date: 2015-09-14
Acceptance date: 2015-09-15
 
Pol. J. Environ. Stud. 2015;24(6):2683–2697
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ABSTRACT:
This paper uses eight criteria – slope, tourism attractiveness, drainage system density, grassland coverage, forest coverage, community remoteness, altitude, and road network density – to evaluate the ecotourism suitability of China’s Liangheyuan (LHY) Nature Reserve. It calculates the criteria evaluation weights from 330 online tourist responses through an analytic hierarchy process (AHP) and uses GIS10.2 space analysis software to analyze the ecotourism suitability of the study area. It combines the results with the nature reserve’s functions to consider ecotourism developments. There are a number of results:
1) The ecotourism suitability of LHY is divided into five levels, with level I having the lowest ecological value and being suitable for mass tourism or general ecotourism. Level V is of considerable ecological value, has high environmental sensitivity, and is suitable for ecotourism with strict environmental constraints.
2) The questionnaire results, reflecting tourist preferences, show that the maximum and minimum weights of suitability evaluation criteria are the drainage system network density (0.2375) and altitude (0.0405), respectively.
3) Large areas of the reserve are classified as moderately suitable, indicating that the study area has a relatively significant potential for ecotourism development.
4) According to the suitability evaluation result and the nature reserve’s environmental characteristics, the scientific experimental zone of the reserve is divided into three functional areas and nine themed subareas, all of which have different functions and roles in terms of ecological protection and tourism development.
eISSN:2083-5906
ISSN:1230-1485