Hispanic and White Visitors in U.S. National Parks: Meta-Analysis of Visitor Use Survey


  • Lena Le


Hispanic, ethnicity, outdoor recreation, National Park Service, park administration, diversity, Hispanics, meta-analysis, national parks, visitation


Maintaining cultural and racial diversity in recreation visitation is a major concern in public land management. The purpose of this study was to examine differences in recreation behaviors between Hispanic and White (non-Hispanic) visitors to U.S. national parks. Meta-analysis techniques were used to compare 64 datasets of a visitor survey conducted by the Park Studies Unit at the University of Idaho. Mean difference (Hedges’s g and Glass’s delta) and risk difference (Mantel-Haenszel’s method) were used as the effect sizes to compare Hispanic and White visitor groups. With 95% confidence interval, the findings showed significant differences between Hispanics and Whites in terms of the proximity of visitors’ residences to the park and participation in backpacking, bird-watching, and learning. No differences were found in activities such as camping in developed campgrounds and picnicking nor in the proportion of family groups. Whites and Hispanics were similar in their ratings of the importance of park resources such as clean air and clean water. Hispanics, however, rated the importance of facilities and services such as restrooms, exhibits, and staff availability higher than did Whites. Whites were not more likely to visit national parks overnight, and among day users, Hispanics spent significantly longer time visiting the park. These findings strengthen the assumption that there are different recreation behaviors and preferences across ethnic backgrounds. Although differences exist, engaging in family-oriented activities and visiting in family groups were the core common behaviors that occurred across ethnic backgrounds. To remain relevant in a culturally diverse environment such as the U.S. population, the National Park Service should be aware of the differences and have appropriate strategies to attract a more diverse visitor profile. The core values of the national parks should be maintained, and services and programs that appeal to audiences of different ethnic and racial backgrounds should be implemented.





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