Today, tourism is a major source of income for many countries, and it affects the economy of both source and host countries, and in some countries this way of income is a vital importance. Hamedan Township is one of the most popular and important tourism areas of Iran. It is rich in nature, history and culture which make a favorite destination for various tourists. There are so many tourist attractions in Hamedan Township include historical, cultural and natural sites such as waterfall and mountain. Due to rapid growth of ecotourism, a challenge for the decision makers is the way of managing ecotourism in order to minimize the negative impacts for sustainable development of tourism.
The main objective of this study is to identify and prioritize the potential ecotourism site in Hamadan County, Iran, using Geographic Information System (GIS) and Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP). Seven criteria including slope, aspect, distance from water, distance from road, land use, vegetation were used in this study. Criteria's and sub-criteria's were selected according to the professional expert's opinions. The final map of suitable areas for study area prepared using Weighted Linear Combination (WLC) and Ordered Weighted Averaging (OWA) technique in GIS environment.
The results showed that 15049 ha (5/5%) of study area has first class potential (high suitable), 114919 ha (41%) has second class potential (high), 122589 ha (44%) has third class potential (low) and 26292 ha (9/9%) has four class potential (very low suitable) based on WLC method, but in both models most suitable area is located in west and southwest of township.
Suitable management for ecotourism development is essential in order to conserve and maintain the biological richness of the area. The results of this site selection models can be a useful reference to the ecotourism planning and development for manager and decision makers.