The evaluation of the geomorphological touristic potential of mountainous areas. Case study: the Rarău Massif
Abstract: The present study aims to implement in the GIS modeling the results of a survey that sought to define an algorithm by ranking environmental elements so as to determine and regionalize the tourism potential and attractiveness of mountain areas. Tourism potential is an important indicator in characterizing any area, and the result of a plurality of components pertaining to the natural, geographic, cultural-historical and socio-economic environment. Tourism is a social phenomenon, so that the application of a social research method – the questionnaire – represents a good evaluation technique for the elements that potentiate the phenomenon in question. Its construction was aimed primarily at the environmental elements, plus an element that stands for the symbiosis between two or more valuable features of the environment – the protected areas. The results show that, for about 73% of the respondents, the landscape and the protected areas are essential factors in assessing the tourist attractiveness of any mountain area.The landscape factor was analyzed in terms of morphometry – altitude, relief intensity, drainage density, slopes, and morphology – genetic types of relief (the only quantified types being the glacial, karstic, volcanic and lithostructural ones). As indicators to quantify the algorithm resulting from the questionnaire, we used the information provided by the ArcGIS 9.2 software platform, with the use of which morphometric and geomorphologic applications were created. As a case study, we used the Rarău Mountain area in the north of the Eastern Carpathians. Finally, the regional map of tourism potential and attractiveness was obtained, as well as statistical data expressed mathematically, which can be used in ranking mountain areas in terms of the features mentioned above.