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Improving the Management of Natural Resource Recreation Areas Through Understanding Place-Attached Visitor Segments

Namyun Kil, Stephen Holland, Taylor Stein

Abstract


Providing positive outcomes for park and natural area visitors has been an increasingly important goal for recreation resource researchers, managers, and administrators. In particular, individuals achieving satisfying psychological experiences as a benefit of recreation activities has been a key element of the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) within recreation planning management systems. Recent planning efforts have begun to integrate place attachment within Outcomes-Focused Management (OFM) (e.g., Anderson & Fulton, 2008; Driver, 2008). Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to examine the association between place-attached segments (i.e., higher and lower levels of place attachment) and OFM constructs (e.g., benefits sought, activity preferences, perception of settings, benefits attained, place satisfaction, place-setting preferences, future visit intentions) and to suggest management policies that could assist the outcomes-production process. On-site data were collected from Ocala National Forest visitors at camping, swimming, canoeing, and off-high vehicle riding recreation areas between March and May 2008, to obtain visitors’ forest use profiles, activity preferences, recreation experience preferences, and demographic profiles. A follow-up mail survey was conducted to obtain information about place meanings, recreation experience attainment, place satisfaction, place attachment, place setting preferences, and future visit intentions. Results of confirmatory factor analysis indicated that three dimensions of place attachment (place dependence, affective attachment, and place identity) were revealed. Cluster analysis of respondents’ reported mean scores of place attachment dimensions segmented the visitors into three groups as high-medium-low-attached visitors. The place dependence score was higher than place identity and affective attachment scores across the groups. The three groups differed on their mean scores on trip characteristics and across primary OFM constructs. Visitors with higher levels of attachment, on average, had higher preferences for most benefits and the strength of their attachment was higher due to benefit attainment. The highly attached group expressed higher levels of satisfaction with ROS settings perceived differently or similarly among the different groups. Finally, preferences for ROS settings varied across the groups. Planners and managers should consider variations and commonalities among the segments on diverse value aspects in planning and pay much more attention to characteristics valued by highly attached groups to enhance visitor outcomes including emotional attachment.

Keywords


Place attachment, outcomes-focused management, recreation benefits, recreation settings

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