Geotouristic itineraries are routes, accessed on foot or through vehicles, which include a set of places that have high scientific, cultural, aesthetic, functional and economic value, among others, and that involve both cultural heritage and geoheritage.
The identification, classification, evaluation, mapping, protection and promotion of cultural and geoheritage add a value to tourism activities (i.e., geotourism) through the interaction between the cultural and natural aspects of the landscape (Panizza and Piacente 2003), being a form of creating interaction between the community and the environment that surrounds it, through the discovery and appreciation of elements in the landscape, until then ignored.
As for the abiotic environment, the geotouristic itineraries are important tools for the dissemination of geosciences because they work as outdoor field classes for teaching about the physical phenomena associated with the landscape. In relation to the cultural environment, it involves the historical record and the characteristics of the geo-resources used in the construction of assets.
Tourism is a secular activity; however, due to its development in recent years, most of it is associated with natural aspects; it has never been highlighted as much as it is today. Rural tourism, ecotourism, adventure tourism and geotourism are some examples of segments that have renewed this activity, increasing incomes, moving capital, improving the quality of life of the populations involved and, when executed in a sustainable way, contributing for the conservation of the environment. This development has created new territories, in which every spatial element that is possible to be inserted into the touristic dynamics is welcomed.
Geotouristic maps blend elements of geoscientific information, related with geodiversity and geoheritage per se, with cultural and tourist features so that the public can easily interpret them.
According to Hose (1995: 17), geotourism is “the provision of interpretative and service facilities to enable tourists to acquire knowledge and understanding of the geology and geomorhplogy of a site [...] beyond the level of mere aesthetic appreciation”. Thus, geotourism works as a mechanism for the development of a sustainable activity, contributing to the geoconservation and dissemination of its geoheritage and cultural heritage. These improve the quality of life of the population, generating funds through the allocation of new values and meanings to the area where it is developed and encouraging the sense of cultural identity by increasing the awareness of the local population and visitors of this heritage.
Geodiversity, as the result of slow evolution since Earth's beginnings, refers to the natural variety of geological (rocks, minerals and fossils), geomorphological (landforms, deposits and processes) and soil elements, including their relationships, correlations, interpretations, systems and properties (Gray 2004). Pedological (soil) and hydrological (surface or subsurface – sweet or salty) diversities are also part of geodiversity; it may be in-situ (in the place of origin) or ex-situ (collected and exposed elsewhere, in the case of rocks and their elements; Ponciano et al. 2011) and may be analyzed at all scales (Serrano and Ruiz Flaño 2007). The human activity plays a fundamental role in interfering with the characteristics of these elements.
Geoheritage can then be described and interpreted in places with relevant aspects, always with the objective of benefiting the local communities and introducing environmental awareness to the elements involved. It refers to the set of values that represent the geodiversity of the territory, composed of abiotic natural elements on the surface (submerged or immersed) that must be preserved due to their heritage value (Rodrigues & Fonseca 2008). It is important to note that, in this work, geoheritage corresponds to the abiotic portion of natural heritage, which can be subdivided into geological, geomorphological, pedological and hydrological heritage.
This work is based on the concept of geotourism like a new segment that aims to appreciate, promote and value the abiotic heritage, or geoheritage, as a whole, including forms and processes (Dowling 2011), adding the abiotic environment to the elements of fauna and flora, while using geoheritage in a sustainable way.
The objective of this work is to propose an itinerary in the southern coast of the Paraiba State. The itinerary includes seven places of geotouristic interest, being two important elements of geodiversity (geological/geomorphological feature of Amor Rock and geomorphological/hydrological feature of ‘Maceió’ of Mucatu) and five geological and geomorphological elements of geoheritage (Tombolo of Coqueirinho, Canyon of Coqueirinho, Cones of Dejection of Coqueirinho, Coqueirinho Structural High and Tambaba Beach). The aim of this proposal is to disseminate the physical aspects of the landscape (geology, geomorphology and hydrology) and the historical-cultural aspects of the assets, in order to contribute for their maintenance and conservation.
It is important to remember that the Paraíba south coast has numerous tourist spots among the most visited in the States. However, the tourism guides exclude, due to the lack of information, the abiotic aspects of the landscape. The proposal of the geotouristic itinerary of this area highlights these aspects, using a comprehensible language since the objective is to communicate with the majority of tourists.
Material and Methods
To obtain the results presented in this work, the following phases were executed, sensu Brilha (2005), namely:
Bibliographic research: in order to know the history, geology, geomorphology, pedology and hydrology of the physical environment of south coast of Paraíba state;
Inventory: the selection of places of interest was based on the presence of values that made them special, such as scientific, aesthetic, cultural, economic and ecologic values. There was the creation of a database with the places, with the completion of descriptive files, containing various information, such as absolute location, means of access, photographic register of the site, a detailed description of geological, geomorphological, pedological and hydrological features, considering the scale of the site, from the outcrop to the landscape (justifying the choice by demarcating the above-mentioned values from nonexistent to exceptional, with a brief description of the geotouristic potential). The threats to the places were considered by analyzing the anthropic and natural ones that make the sites vulnerable, suggesting measures that minimize or avoid them, as well as the existing protection regime.
Quantitative assessment: considers the degree of importance of the element for geotourism, as well as the evaluation of the degree of vulnerability, aiming at the creation of geoconservation measures, based on Pereira et al. 2019;
Promotion: publicity of the value of heritage elements, through the elaboration of this geotouristic itinerary, one of several that will be published later. The position of the sites on the itinerary was related to their geographic location, through a sequential order. Due to the presence of more complete tourist infrastructures, particularly road networks and parking facilities, basic tourist information was prioritized.
The QGIS software version 3.0 (Girona) was used to create the geotouristic itinerary, using the vectorization of the elements of interest from the coverage of the study area. Google Earth image mosaic was used as basis, with the application of the Quick Map Services module. The vector layers used in the elaboration of the maps were applied using the geographical coordinate system DATUM WGS 84 (EPSG 4326 Code).
The geographical scales used in the itineraries varied according to the spatial area of the different maps, so that these could be allocated in their pre-defined layout. The scale of the map was 1: 5,000, being considered as a detailed scale map.
Geological and Geomorphological Context of the Area
The area is located in the topographic chart of João Pessoa (SB-25-YC-3), scale 1:100,000, elaborated by the Army Ministry. The geology of the research area is associated with the Paraíba sedimentary basin. Such sediments were deposited as the South American continent withdrew from the African continent (Françolin & Szatmari 1987), over a crystalline basement deformed by shear zones (Jardim de Sá 1994). This
basin can be subdivided into three sub-basins (Figure 1): Olinda, Alhandra and Miriri. The study area is part of the Alhandra sub-basin, bordered to the north by Itabaiana fault and to the south by Goiana fault.