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Impacts of Tourism-Led Constructions on Geoheritage Sites: the Case of Gilindire Cave
Geological heritage sites are of great importance both for better understanding of the formation of the earth and for transferring its memory to future generations. People's curiosity to access this information leads to tourism activity, in which caves constitute a significant place as sources of geotouristic attractions. In the case of Turkey, caves can also be considered as the major source of tourist attractions and thus economic gain providers for local communities. Focusing on the contribution of tourism to the economy, most local authorities allow tourism activity for the caves without adequate research. This leads to the construction of buildings for the needs of visitors and the installation of walking pathways, ladders, and luminaires inside the caves, which are in most cases harmful to cave ecosystems. Located on the Mediterranean coastline of Turkey, Gilindire Cave presents such a case. Unlike other caves in Turkey, it is among three caves that were found to occur in the Cambrian limestone caves literature. Thus, any data to be detected in this environment is of scientific importance. However, service buildings constructed in the upper elevation of the cave and visitor stairs and luminaires installed in the interior constitute major threats to accessing this valuable information. In this context, the study aims to examine the caves in the scope of geotourism and tourism-led constructions through the example of Gilindire Cave. As a result, the study underpins the importance of diligent investigation of cave ecosystems prior to any tourism-led activity and principles for the service structures to be built in such geoheritage sites.