Why People Visit Parks? Do the Answers Matter to Management?

"Why travel motivations and socio-demographics matter in managing a National Park" by authors Melville Saayman and Andrea Saayman is an article, published by Koedoe, which highlights the extent to which socio-demographic and behavioural and motivational indicators influence the spending of tourists to the park. A better understanding of the latter could help marketers and planners to increase the economic impact of a park.

The Addo Elephant National Park is one of only a few national parks in the world that offers the Big 7 experience and is therefore one of South Africa's prime tourism destinations.

The park plays an important role in the regional economy and has become a hub for tourism development. Since 2001, surveys have been conducted among tourists to the park and have included a number of socio-demographic, behavioural and motivational questions.

In this analysis, 537 questionnaires were used. The methodology used includes factor analysis, cross-sectional regression analysis and pseudo-panel data analysis to determine and compare possible influences on spending.

The research identifies six motives for tourists travelling to the Addo Elephant National Park; these are nature, activities, family and socialisation, escape, attractions and photography. The research found that a combination of socio-demographic and motivational factors influences visitor spending decisions.

Added to this, the research confirms that tourist attractions, including national parks, differ from one another and that the variables that influence spending therefore also differ. In order for national parks to fulfill their conservation mandate, they require funding. One of the main sources of income for national parks is tourist spending.

This article identifies the socio-demographic and motivational factors that influence tourist spending. Hence, park management can use these results in order to market and create opportunities for tourists to spend more thereby benefiting conservation directly.

For more information contact, Liezel Grunewald, title operations coordinator, KOEDOE - African Protected Area Conservation and Science.

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