Outdoor Recreation among Asian Americans: A Case Study of San Francisco Bay Area Residents


  • Patricia L. Winter
  • Woo C. Jeong
  • Geoffrey C. Godbey


Asian American cultural groups, heterogeneity, linguistic acculturation, recreational activities, motivations to visit natural areas, importance of park attributes, constraints to recreation participation


Demographic change is redefining the demand for recreation and leisure within North America (Shelhas, 2002; Struglia & Winter, 2002). One such change is a result of rapid Asian American and Hispanic American population growth. A better understanding of the outdoor recreation attitudes and behaviors of those populations and a clearer understanding of how those groups compare to traditional users will provide the basis for more effective management within public recreation services. While very little is known about Asian American recreational behaviors and preferences, researchers have suggested that treatment of “Asians” as a homogenous group is unwarranted (Okazaki & Hall, 2002). This study examined differences among four Asian American cultural groups (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino) residing in the San Francisco Bay Area regarding sociodemographics, linguistic acculturation, outdoor recreational participation, importance of park attributes, motivations to visit natural areas, and constraints to visiting the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA).Analyses revealed significant differences among the four Asian American groups including differences in place of birth, level of education, annual household income, and linguistic acculturation. All cultural groups shared a propensity towards use of ethnic media when watching television, listening to radio, and reading magazines/newspapers. Furthermore, outdoor recreation participation varied significantly by cultural group, accounted for by income, education, gender, and linguistic acculturation. Importance of park attributes varied by cultural group and income. Motivations to visit natural areas were affected by cultural group, education, and gender. Finally, perceived constraints to visiting the GGNRA were affected by the interaction of income, education, linguistic acculturation, cultural group, and gender, but not by any variable individually.Differences among the cultural groups in this study support the premise that the Asian American population is heterogeneous. This finding points to the need for further explorations of the similarities and differences shared among Asian American cultural groups, and the importance of avoiding overly simplistic views of Asian American culture and culture’s relationship to recreation and service delivery. The heavy focus on use of ethnic media among respondents is also of importance. The use of ethnic media and the provision of written materials in ethnic languages, is recommended to more effectively communicate with those who have maintained their own ethnic languages. Because differences in park attribute preferences and motivations to visit natural areas were highly dependent upon cultural group, recreation service delivery should focus on differences as well as the similarities represented by Asian Americans. Sample constraints temper findings of the current study, yet the results offer important insights for service delivery and research alike. Additional research on variation within ethnic groups is needed, to contrast the relative contributions of sociodemographics and cultural variation. Contrasting cultural groups with similar ociodemographic characteristics would be of particular merit.





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