Site selection for Tourism Development Using Genetic Algorithm and GIS, Case Study: Kavir National Park

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Associate professor of geomorphology, Faculty of Geography, University Of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Associate professor of geography and rural planning, Faculty of Geography, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

3 MA in tourism Planning, Faculty of Geography, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


Economic diversification, raising the indexes of human development, entrepreneurship, interaction of cultures and especially preservation of environment and totally sustainable development are the concerns with which the modern world is faced. Each of the counties in any level of development tries to find the necessary answer to the concerns. In the meantime, those countries that have tended to economic diversity and want to release their economies from single-product economy are seeking to understand or to create advantages. The importance of this issue in arid and desert ecosystems due to the sensitive and fragile environmental resources is doubled so that the awareness about the environmental characteristics of these areas is a prerequisite for the development. One of the components is tourism and ecotourism. As the spatial model of tourism in the nature, tourism with an ecotourism approach is highly important. This spatial model encompasses the approach of tourists to natural environment with different motivations that a visitor has by travelling to natural environment or nature. However, as a broad, huge and capable activity, desert ecotourism should be organized in the manner that while achieving the intended goals, it can support environmental and cultural resources as well as sustain valuable human heritage of these zones. Therefore, not only the efforts should be made towards removing organizational and administrative impediments of ecotourism, but one should step into new stages such as fundamental planning for the zones and their positioning. In the study and identification of potential tourism and planning in this regard, the ability to become an eco-tourism area is fantastic. Tourism potential and the ability to manipulate the region and especially the use of natural ability to maintain stability characteristics can further develop this area. Thus, this is required to conduct an extensive research in the field of tourism in national parks desert. Kavir National Park of Iran is one of the largest national parks of the country. It is located in Semnan, Ghom, Tehran and Esfahan. As a broad area of Iranian territory that enjoys tourism attractions such as sports, historical and scientific sites as well as good diversity of plans and animals, the region is compatible with environment and special geomorphologic effects. Kavir national park is one of the rare places in entire Iran and it is capable to become an extraordinary zone in case of study and identification of its tourism capabilities and planning.
In this research, the data collected from the studied area could not be used to calculate the weights based on data-based knowledge. Major reason for this is lack of scientific ecotourism positioning. Therefore, the effective criteria were first identified by Delphi technique and the weights of criteria were extracted by using Analytical Hierarchical Process (AHP). After identification and preparation of all criteria and effective factors for the site selection, it would be necessary to prepare factor maps of each of the layers. Preparation of each of the criteria was conducted in the form of raster layers in GIS environment (ArcGIS). After completion of work in this stage, the zone was restudied in view of optimal places by genetic algorithm method for the purpose of accuracy of the positioning on the obtained optimal places.
Results and discussion
Main criteria of the research are four groups of infrastructures, attraction, facilities, and natural factors. Each of these criteria is divided into sub-elements. The criterion of attractions encompasses index characteristics such as biodiversity (animal life, special plant species), desert attractions, water attractions and historical-cultural attractions. Infrastructures contain communication roads (earth road, asphalted road, and highway), human settlements (village, city), residential infrastructures, utility infrastructure (electricity, gas), and access to water resources (sweet water spring and refined water). The index of facilities contains security and number of tourists. Finally, natural factors are topography (direction gradient-height), geology, plant coverage, land use and climate. Then, in order to develop hierarchical structure, Expert Choice software was used for pairwise comparisons and preparation of evaluation matrix. After preparation of the classified layers, in order to prepare the final map, the layers should be combined with each other and the final coefficient obtained by AHP should be applied to them. These processes were made through Raster calculator tool in ArcGIS. Ultimately, the final map of the places capable of ecotourism was obtained.
Research results indicate that tourism development model is extended in the center and northwest parts of the region. It is recommended that the development of fundamental infrastructures of the complex is limited so that it can avoid the loss in the quality of its ecological resources. The areas around the central zone in the west and east are in the second priority of tourism activities development. Some parts of this zone have formed the spinal column of the zone with access to the north-south road. They have contained in themselves villages and large and important settlements of the zone. The importance of this zone is mainly due to centralization of infrastructures of services such as transportation, residential and entertainment services. This is in the manner that they show a centralized tourism with an emphasis on cultural tourism. The limits of the protected zone in the north suburb of Kavir national park is one of the environmental reserves of the zone. The east and south parts of the zone are in the third degree of importance for development of tourism activities in view of tourism development. The zones with warm and dry climate, lands with scattered desert attractions are also specified. Finally, the fifth area has no facility for ecotourism development and may be used as the entrance gate to Dasht-e Kavir for the extensive tourism development. In the final section, genetic algorithm was used to find the optimum zone. This zone is located inside a very suitable area. This confirms the accuracy of research and assurance of finding the correct optimal areas by the model.


Main Subjects

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  • Receive Date: 24 July 2013
  • Revise Date: 16 December 2014
  • Accept Date: 16 December 2014
  • First Publish Date: 22 June 2015