The experience has proved that development of tourism creates economic, social and environmental impacts. In fact, the policy of sustainable tourism development, is today a general approach that the government have been considered in terms of tourism in ecology and acceptable long-term self-sufficient financially and in terms of social and ethical perspectives useful for local communities and is promising. Therefore, tourism should be a part of the natural environment, as well as cultural and human resources to usage balance between them to maintain. The natural and cultural resources and the others for tourism usage must be preserved permanently in the future, the benefits for the community to have. Basically, tourism policies should improve living standards of people who visit different areas, and solve their needs. Tourism development and management, if compatible with the environment, is an essential factor in achieving sustainable development.
Tourism in Meshkinshahr city is one of the categories that need to be considered. Meshkinshahr in Ardebil province is located in northwest Iran, and is located 839 km. far from Tehran. The climate of this city is mountainous and the temperature during the year varies between -30 and +30° C. Sabalan mountain is located in 25 km. of this city. The old names of this city include: Orami, Varavy, Peshgin, and Khiyav. Meshkinshahr, has many tourist attractions (natural, historical and cultural ones). Warm mineral waters of this city are the most important tourist attractions.
In this study the affects of tourism development in Meshkinshahr is examined and implications have been suggested for sustainable development of tourism industry in order to increase its revenues while decreasing the consequent negative effects. Consistent with the objective, this study is an applied and in the light of methodology and nature, it is regarded as a descriptive-analytical and co relational one. The statistical community of this study includes experts and specialists of organizations and institutions of Meshkinshahr with the overall number of 55 participants. The study is conducted based on library and field (questionnaire) data collection. Simple linear regression analysis is used to analyze the data and test the hypotheses. Hypotheses of this study include:
- Development of tourism in Meshkinshahr leads to negative effects on the physical environment.
- Tourism development, associates the social and cultural development in Meshkinshahr township.
- Tourism development, has positive effects on Meshkinshahr economic development.
Results and Discussion
Results showed that tourism has negative effect on environment. In other words, the development of tourism in the Meshkinshahr causes negative and undesirable effects on its environment. They also showed that splurge waste is the most important environmental impact of tourism development in this city. Moreover, the development of tourism has led economic, Cultural and social development in the Meshkinshahr.
According to the results obtained, the following suggestions are presented to develope tourism and increasing the positive effects of economic, social, and cultural tourism, and reduce negative environmental effects:
- Development of historical and cultural tourism due to abundant historical and cultural attractions;
- Development of ecotourism as one of the important forms of tourism due to natural attractions and exceptional of Meshkinshahr;
- Identification, preservation and introduction of plant and animal species and attract tourists interested in this field;
- Using the talents in the region, such as producing of fruits, nuts and increasing the role of local handicrafts and arts in attracting tourists and supply these products to them;
- Development of nomads tourism, according to Shah Sevan nomads, etc. which live in the region;
- Preparation of marketing and advertising programs to introduce the Meshkinshahr to tourists and encourage them to visit the region, as well as improving the facilities and tourism information in destination areas;
- Improving recreational, cultural and public health facilities and so on;
- Improving access and transportation to tourism sites, especially historical sites;
Using the power of organizational rules, and regulations, in order to reduce hazards and environmental pollution in ecological tourism areas;
Tourism development is one of the most important development sectors in the present century that can cause economic and social development in countries. But, development of tourism in the Meshkinshahr township causes negative and undesirable effects on the environment. Also, the development of tourism has led to economic, Cultural and social development in Meshkinshahr. Consequently, without careful planning for environmental - tourism, it will lead to negative impacts on environment and environmental degradation.
The results of this study may be applied by organization and institutions such as: Cultural Heritage; Tourism & Handicrafts; Environment Preservation Organization of Ardebil and Meshkin Shahr as well as Municipal and Local Government of Meshkinshahr (Provincial Government of Ardebil).