Visitors' acceptance of negative ecological impacts in national parks: comparing the explanatory power of psychographic scales in a Norwegian mountain setting
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of Sustainable Tourism. 2013, 21 (2), 291-313. 10.1080/09669582.2012.692685
Even in protected areas, it is inevitable that any human use will produce some impact on natural resources. This study identifies visitors’ tolerance of potential negative ecological impacts from tourism activities and facilities in a Norwegian national park context, based on park visitors’ expressed degree of acceptance of negative effects on particular species of wildlife (wild reindeer and raptors) and on vegetation. Attitudes were analysed using psychographic scales, reflecting respondents’ nature orientations, their specific facility desires, their preferences in a wilderness setting and their concerns about human interaction with the natural environment. Fourteen research hypotheses were tested. Findings demonstrated that the psychographic scales explained more variation in attitudes than most social background and trip characteristics. Higher levels of education among visitors were strongly associated with increased ecological concern; age and gender were not. There was generally strong ecological awareness and eco-centrism among park visitors in general, with a small proportion of wilderness purists. Better trail conditions, signposting and interpretation were sought. But park visitors were also found to possess a complex mixture of needs and drivers. The study found significant potential for strategic alliances between tourism and conservation interests, and key value issues for park governance systems.