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Recreation and Tourism Trends

Strategic planning and management of parks and protected areas is a complex process. It is important that protected area planners and managers understand past, present and future trends in order to design park systems that will be relevant and sustainable for the future.Read more

Strategic planning and management of parks and protected areas is a complex process. It is important that protected area planners and managers understand past, present and future trends in order to design park systems that will be relevant and sustainable for the future. Trends need to be considered at several levels:

  • Major worldwide trends affecting tourism at a global and national level; including long term economic, social, political and environmental trends. 
  • Trends affecting tourism in protected areas.
  • Specific trends affecting protected areas, such as 'climate change', governance, involvement of Indigenous communities, biodiversity initiatives, visitation trends, and sustainability.

Recent national and international research suggest the present and future trends in protected area tourism include:

  • Park visitation will increase;
  • Park tourism leads to increased public participation and ultimately collaboration;
  • Increasing education levels in society lead to demands for increasing sophistication in park management and park services;
  • A population shift in the developed world towards increasing numbers of older citizens results in significant change in activities, settings and experiences sought by visitors;
  • Increased accessibility of information technology means that potential, current and past visitors will be better informed and knowledgeable about what leisure opportunities exist, the current state of management and the consequences of management actions;
  • Increasing availability of information technology profoundly influences park visitation;
  • Advances in the technology of travel and reductions in costs result in increased demand for park and protected area opportunities distant from one’s residence;
  • The increase in park area, number of parks, and park visitation exceeds the capability of many protected area agencies;
  • Park management will shift gradually from government agency structures, with centralised financial control, to parastatal forms, with flexible financial management.
  • Park management funding will increasingly shift from government-consolidated funds to park tourism fees and charges. This results in a greater focus on visitor management.
  • Protected area agencies develop increased sophistication in their understanding and management of park visitation and tourism;
  • The world’s international travel will be strongly affected by decreasing supplies of oil and gas and large increases in energy cost in the second decade of the 21st century, and
  • Parks increasingly recognised as cultural icons.

Information about the rates of participation in outdoor recreation (including spatial and temporal distribution) is an important aspect of recreation and tourism planning.

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