Tourism, one of the most important and innovative activities on our
planet, could act as the vector of a new alliance for promoting the quality of night sky.
The sight of a clear sky is an asset for the development of specific products geared
towards scientific or knowledge tourism, but it is also a frequently forgotten
attraction influencing the quality of a tourist destination as an additional scenic
element. At times, the starry sky forms part of the very essence of the tourism product,
such as in the case of observations of the Northern Lights, the multitude of sailing
holidays featuring navigation by the stars, some pilgrimage routes, or the innovative
visions offered by desert tourism.
The firmament, as a scenario for tourism in modern times, has been present as a basic
reference point in historical destinations such as Santorini or Taormina. Venezia,
salvare la notte, the slogan for one of the most important meetings in defence of
the quality of the night sky, warned of the danger of forgetting the beauty and appeal of
the night for an activity mobilising more than six hundred million people a year. This
vital resource has almost fallen into oblivion due to tourisms rapid development,
standardising and massification. The present challenge is to reintroduce this resource as
a basic part of the offer for those destinations which still have a chance to recover the
clarity of their night sky.
Cultural heritage associated with astronomy also acts as motivation for many travellers
nowadays. At present, there are many consolidated locations and destinations in which
heritage connected with astronomy, including archaeoastronomical heritage, constitutes the
tourist attraction par excellence.
Observatories and their surroundings are also candidate areas for the development of
innovative and respectful tourism activities, where intelligent visits can be made
compatible with the careful protection of the extraordinary natural conditions at such
locations, and their quality for astronomical observation.
Camino de Santiago (Way of St.
James) - The Route of the Stars.
It is one of the most important cultural and tourist routes of Euope, declared World
Heritage by UNESCO. A very ancient pilgrimage route under the stars, where the Milky Way
pointed the way to Compostela (Campus stellae, the field of stars) and the edge of the
known world (Finis terrae).
"Ruta de las Estellas"
Astronomical educational expeditions for students through contest (Atlantic Ocean, Turkey,
Zimbabwe, Kilimanjaro, Machu Picchu, etc.).
Atacama. Astronomical Route
Route conceived as a sustainable tourist product that integrates natural landscape and the
associated cultural heritage with the astronomical offer.
Star-gazing at the Khurel Togoot Observation Center
New tourist products related with astronomy and star observation.
Astronomical Tourism in the Southern
Emisphere - CHILE...>
Aurora Tourism. Economic Impact in the NWW. (Canada)...>
National Park. The southern hemisphere skies as a tourist attraction at Olifants Rest
Torun. From Nicolaus Copernicus to Alexander
Wolszczan, both of whom were born in Torun...>
Rural House and Astronomical Tourism at
Borobia (Spain). A new dimension of rural touris. More information...>
Hotel. Valle de Elqui, Chile
Other examples and references
COAA Centro de
Observação Astronómica no Algarve...>
Dome C. Windows to the
The Northern Lights Cruise Trip...>
Northern Lights holidays...>
Travel Law Association...>
Examples of visitable Observatories - The tourism of the stars
Observatory - Hawaii (USA)...>
Visits to the Paranal Site of the ESO La Silla Paranal
The South African Astronomical Observatory - Virtual Tour
The Kitt Peak National Observatory Visitor Center
Frank N. Bash Visitors Center - McDonald Observatory, Texas (USA)...>
The Jodrell Bank Visitor (Lovell Radio Telescope -Jodrell
Lowell Observatory - tour and a multimedia (USA)...>
VLA Tour (Very Large Array) - USA...>
National Radio Astronomy Observatory Tours (USA)...>
Arecibo Observatory (Puerto Rico)...>
Siding Spring Observatory (Australia)...>
Observatory Edinburgh Visitor Centre...>