Visitor Preferences in Kruger National Park, South Africa: The Value of a Mixed-Method Approach

Authors

  • Sarah I. Leberman
  • John D. Holland

Keywords:

Park visitor preferences, conjoint analysis, mixed-method, park management.

Abstract

South African protected area managers are increasingly being forced to ask strategic questions regarding the economic sustainability of the reserves they administer. To do this, managers need to know more about what visitors expect from their visits to protected areas and, for the strategy to succeed, visitors need to understand the objectives of environmental managers. In this research a mixed-method approach, using conjoint analysis and visitor comments, provides empirical data on the underlying determinants of visitor preferences in Kruger National Park. This data will assist park authorities in making better informed planning decisions. The conjoint analysis results showed that accommodation type and cost were the most important variables to visitors, when making decisions on visiting Kruger National Park. Accommodation cost alone was seen as more important than the combined importance of animal viewing, activities, and facilities. This finding was more prevalent for international visitors than South Africans. The qualitative visitor comments indicated that service in terms of staffing, maintenance, and information flow was poor. The value of using a mixed-method approach is that is provides park managers with a more complete picture of visitor preferences, rather than relying on numbers or comments alone. Park management can now implement appropriate strategies to meet visitor preferences, in terms of concentrating its limited resources on improving the standard of service and reviewing accommodation type and cost.

Published

2005-04-18

Issue

Section

Regular Papers