Parks play an important role in improving health and wellbeing. However, lack of understanding of visitor preferences in regards to their recreation experiences and how managers can facilitate desired benefits has limited the contribution of parks to society and impeded adoption of frameworks such as outcomes-focused management. This paper describes a study of two urban and two regional parks that investigated the experience preferences of visitors and how their attainment was influenced by activity and setting preferences. The study approach was informed by theoretical perspectives from resource management, psychology, sociology, and management science. Results revealed a core group of preferences common to all four parks. These included enjoying nature, escaping personal/social pressures, escaping physical pressures, and enjoying the outdoor climate. While there were more similarities than differences between the desires of urban and regional park users, the findings provide valuable insights for managers of such areas in terms of what visitors want and their current level of satisfaction in attaining desired outcomes. The findings also have relevance in terms of market positioning and improving campaigns targeting health benefits.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the South Australian Department for Environment and Heritage, Parks Victoria and the University of South Australia.
- Outcomes-focused management
- Recreation experience preferences