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Proximate and Distant Visitors: Differences in Importance Ratings of Beneficial Experiences

Dorothy H. Anderson, Sonya A. Wilhelm Stanis, Ingrid E. Schneider, Jessica E. Leahy

Abstract


In this paper, residential proximity to a site is used to differentiate the importance visitors attach to onsite recreation benefits. Specifically, this study examines the importance of benefit opportunities and compares the results of visitors living within 15 miles (proximate visitors) of a study site with visitors living greater than 15 miles away (distant visitors) from a study site. The study sites, Carlyle Lake and Lake Shelbyville are located along the Kaskaskia River in Illinois and are managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Three benefit factors—enjoy nature, mental and physical health, and social interaction—were important to both proximate and distant visitors. Across all factors, proximate visitors’ mean scores were consistently higher than distant visitors’ mean scores for importance of beneficial experiences. Within factors, solitude and learning benefit experiences consistently were identified as more important benefit experiences by proximate visitors than by distant visitors. Finally, differences between proximate and distant visitors were more pronounced at Carlyle Lake than at Lake Shelbyville. Management implications point to benefit management opportunities as well as the challenges of managing for multiple audiences.?

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