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  • Volcanes y ecoturismo en México y América Central ed. by Lilliam Quirós Arias, Álvaro Sánchez Crispín
  • Cínthia Leone S. dos Santos and Wagner C. Ribeiro
Lilliam Quirós Arias and Álvaro Sánchez Crispín, editors
Volcanes y ecoturismo en México y América Central
Heredia, Costa Rica: EUNA (Coedición con Instituto de Geografía, UNAM y Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística), 2014. 308 pp. Illustrations (some color), maps (some color). ISBN 978-9977-65-418-8.

Tourism, like other human activities, has the power to re-signify territory. The territorial structure of tourism contains the nuclei that concentrate supply, services, and infrastructure; the channels linking the destination with the visitors and guaranteeing their mobility; and the tourist flows. This collection of studies surveys the conditions for exploration of volcano tourism at specific points in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.

This book is the result of a partnership between the editors Álvares Sanches Crispin, from the Geography Institute of the Autonomous University of Mexico, and Liliam Quirós Arias, from the School of Geographical Sciences of the National University of Costa Rica. Organized into eight chapters, each focused on a specific volcano, the book compiles research that began in 2009, with methods that range from the use of georeferencing to semi-structured interviews.

Much of the team is made up of geographers, but there are also other social scientists (including anthropologists) and climatologists among them. Many have studied economics, tourism or environment at the graduate level, and most of them have the socio-environmental impacts of tourism as their main research field. The work reinforces fundamental concepts of geotourism. According to the authors, it is possible to understand this term in two ways: tourism that values elements of the landscape as a whole; and tourism focused more exclusively on exploring the geomorphology of a place. The former includes morphological aspects, human geography, and benefits to the communities visited and surrounding areas, as well as the creation of mechanisms to guarantee environmental education at the site and the conservation of the environment for the other species. This vision is very close in meaning to what is often labeled ecotourism. On the other hand, the concept of geotourism as an exploration of geomorphology includes mines and other internal infrastructure of the landscape. A more effective debate on geotourism would be important in order to generate consensus on its meaning and academic use.

The book shows data on the world’s volcanoes, highlighting those with potential for tourism: approximately 222 volcanoes, with almost half of them being concentrated in few countries. The United States has 30, with 21 of them located in Alaska. Then Russia in its eastern portion has 19; Mexico 12, one on the border with Guatemala, which has the same amount; Chile with 11; China 10; and Costa Rica and Japan with 9 each (p. 33). The book emphasizes that only some of the volcanoes with tourism potential in the world have visitor services, suggesting an under-exploitation, economically speaking, of these localities. One reason that volcanoes [End Page 284] are overlooked as tourism destinations is that governments and the business sector are still excessively focused on so-called “sun and beach tourism” (p. 42).

Álvaro Crispín and Enrique Frejomil present an extensive survey done in the region of Parícutin Volcano (Michoacán, Mexico), describing the whole landscape and a local village called Angahuan. The residents of this community belong to the Purhépecha ethnic group. Many of them, including the ones of advanced age, work as guides to the local culture and history. More than half of the survey respondents arrived at Parícutin through travel packages and only 5 percent of them are foreigners. The reference city in the region, Uruapan, with 315,000 inhabitants, has no connection with tourism, although it has infrastructure and access roads of good signage (p. 54).

Thus, although Parícutin has all the potential to be part of the “new tourism,” based on the actions of learning about and respecting the environment while generating equitable economic benefits, the region is still underutilized (p. 53...