Tourist landscapes

09 January, 2012

Tourist landscapes

Tourism is one of the few human activities that lead to significant changes in the economy, the society, the landscape and the environment, both locally and regionally, as well as nationally and globally.

By Aikaterini Gkoltsiou

Greek version

The impacts of tourism upon the landscape are so intense, that the tourist landscape emerges as the product of tourism activities dominating an area and "infecting" its appearance. According to Lozato Giotart (1996), the tourist landscape is a type of cultural landscape, which is reconstructed both in its functional and symbolic structure, from the phenomenon of tourism. According to Wall (in Jafari, 1982), tourist landscapes are both natural and human-made, designed to serve-or products that emerge from-the accommodation of all needs of tourism development. More often than not, tourist landscapes are characterised by an insensitive use of space and land, closely related to tourism development; extensive rebuilding and expansion of tourist infrastructures along the seashore; uncontrolled urbanisation and multifunctional land uses; excessive road network extension; spatial fragmentation; as well as the homogenisation of landscape elements, resulting in the loss of place identity (Green & Hunter in Johnston and Thomas, 1995; Antrop, 1998; Terkenli, 2002).


Photo 01.
Kea, June 2011. Photograph by Aikaterini Gkoltsiou


Some of the most important problems of the Greek tourist landscapes (Vogiatzakis et al., 2008) are the scattered arbitrary buildings along the coastline, the uncontrolled urbanization, the spatial planning of tourist facilities out of scale, without any respect towards the local natural and cultural features of the landscape. The adoption of foreign models (Briassoulis, 2002) of tourism development which are totally opposite to any form of sustainability and lead towards the homogenization of the Greek landscape without any respect to its diversity, are also some causes of its deterioration.


Photos. 02 & 03. Kefalos, Kos. July, 2004. Photographs by Aikaterini Gkoltsiou


However, tourism has many positive impacts upon the landscape, by helping towards the protection and promotion of historical sites and monuments and creating pressures for action at public authorities and private bodies (Coccossis & Tsartas, 2001). According to Anne Buttimer (1998), the identification of the appropriate scale for action is important for the sustainable development of the landscape. While the participation of citizens in various levels of tourism planning is crucial. The first step of the mitigation of tourism impacts upon the landscape is the understanding of the local way of thinking and living and continues with an analytical survey of the place as a particular space for the people who live there.

Regarding the Greek legislation, there is not any specific law for the protection of the landscape/tourist landscape, in comparison to the other European countries (Prieur, 1997:355-356, Ventura 2008). However, quite recently, the European Landscape Convention was ratified by the Greek State; it is expected to affect the legal acts of the State Parties and to change the mentality of people towards the landscape, from a luxury to everyday social need and basic component of the Greek natural and cultural heritage (Dejeant-Pons, 2007).

By Aikaterini Gkoltsiou


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