SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND ESSAYS, vol.4, no.5, pp.513-524, 2009 (SCI-Expanded)
Unless the measures, envisaged for mass tourism in a sustainable understanding, are taken for ecotourism as well, ecotourism will be brought to the same point with mass tourism in terms of environmental hazard as a consequence of an increase in demand. Thus, it is fundamental to find out the level of environmental degradation of the resource and to form the potential for making use of nature-based tourism resources. In order to reduce physical effect in the area used, the relationship between tourism and conservation has to be analyzed in terms of ecological sustainability. Ecological tourism is based on the requirement of conserving resources while they are used. Being the subject to the research, the town of Savsat in Artvin has rich natural and cultural heritage. However, the area is damaged due to intensive touristic potential. In this sense, the use values and conservation values were taken as the basis in the research and the method of Kalem (2001) was applied. In order to determine the general use and conservation values of an area and its usable touristic potential, the criteria constituting the natural and cultural criterion were developed in the method. Natural and cultural elements were examined individually and values were appointed to the criterion report. In appointing these values, the thematic digital maps (the geographical location, transportation and settlement maps, soil map, geological map, presence of water, seismic activity and etc.), created by the GIS (Arcview 8.3) software for the features constituting each criterion report, were utilized. As a result of the research, the area's "weighted use value" put into to the percentage was determined as 69.9%, "weighted conservation value" as 48.7% and "weighted usable touristic potential" as 21.2%. The result got shows that the sources were not able to be protected adequately for sustainability while using them. In addition, natural and cultural properties which are crucial in the use of ecological sources and should be protected have been determined separately in the result of the research. Paying attention to these properties of sources, ecological tourism applications can be realized in the research area. It's considered that to open the research area, which has suitable potential for a variety of ecological tourism kinds, to tourism in the frame of sustainability principles in some phases will be useful in increasing the region's welfare level.