Geoparks have been established around the world with the major objective of protecting significant geoheritage features and reinforcing geoconservation ideas and support through educating visitors. Understanding visitors' perception of geoheritage can inform educational and conservation endeavors. This study used the visitor-employed photography (VEP) method to unravel visitor perception of geoheritage and associated natural and cultural features in the recently designated Hong Kong Global Geopark of China (HKGP). Participants were asked to take photographs of scenes with an effect on their experience in the HKGP and to elaborate in a logbook the chosen subject, reason of choice, and effect on their travel experience. Aimed at capturing real-time and organic experiences, it was found that geoheritage plays a major role in HKGP visits. Visitors develop strong emotional connections with nature through appreciating and learning about prominent features of both small and landscape scales. However, a mismatch was found between visitor belief or incorrect geological or geomorphological knowledge with inherently strong enthusiasm in deciphering the science behind geoheritage. The findings permit development of a new approach of geopark interpretation, commencing with aesthetic and emotional connections with geoheritage features. Modification of fixed on-site provisions and guiding services directed at visitor interests can better spread geoheritage knowledge and reinforce geoconservation ideas. Modeling after overseas practices, a park ranger system, audio guide devices and smart phone applications are essential to achieve meritorious geopark management, appreciation, and enjoyment. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
CitationFung, C. K. W., & Jim, C. Y. (2015). Unraveling Hong Kong Geopark experience with visitor-employed photography method. Applied Geography, 62, 301-313. doi: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2015.05.014
- Visitor-employed photography
- Geoheritage interpretation
- Nature appreciation
- Nature-based education