Principles of visitor management


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Shortcourse outline to help build professional competency in management of tourism and visitation in protected areas. Adapted for Namibia, but applicable everywhere. (c) Steve McCool.

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Principles of visitor management

  1. 1. Presented byStephen McCoolThe University of MontanaMissoula, Montana
  2. 2. Shortcourse Goals Understand consequences of growing tourist demand for Namibian resources Provide a framework for thinking about management Build awareness of the science and practice of visitor management A focus more on the why rather than the what or how
  3. 3. ShortcourseOrganization/Procedures Facilitated discussion  Participants provide examples, opportunities and challenges from real world  Facilitator provides a sense of principles from the literature and experience Organization  Protected Areas and Tourism in a Changing World  Identification of Issues  Presentation and Discussion of Principles
  4. 4. Stewardship Responsibilities Developing a vision  Protect values and resources  Enhance quality of life  Provide opportunities for employment and income Designing a pathway to achieve it  What actions are effective, efficient, and equitable? Monitoring the journey along the pathway  Is what we thought would happen, really happening?
  5. 5. How do we meet these responsibilitieswith respect to tourism and visitation? Use best knowledge available, including science and our experience, we manage: Competing Demands Relationships with Joint Learning Constituencies
  6. 6. But, we know there are obstacles toaddressing any of the above tasks Funding Politics Organizational learning, technical proficiency Lack of trust Institutional design Procedural orientation
  7. 7. And we know that protected areastewardship exists within A dynamic, often contentious political context, Groups vie and compete for “veto” power over protected area actions, Disagreements over goals of protected areas exist, There is often scientific uncertainty about cause-effect relationships, The power to plan and the power to implement plans are often distinct and separated, and Inequities in access to information exist
  8. 8. Thus, protected area stewardship Is a wicked problem  Framing the question of management itself is problematic And a messy situation  There are no solutions (e.g., answers)  Just resolutions (e.g., agreements)  Problems are interconnected  Problems return because the context changes Cannot proceed as normal Finally, the future is not like the past
  9. 9. What is the world like? The PLUS world of the past  Predictable  Linear  Understandable  Stable The DICE World of the future  Dynamic  Impossible to understand completely  Complex  Ever-changing
  10. 10. Small Group Assignment What do you see as the key issue in the provision of visitor and tourism opportunities on MET administered lands over the next decade?  Short phrases  Take 30 minutes  Each group reports on three most significant
  11. 11. So, What Principles will Help AddressThese Issues in a DICE World …So We Can be Better Stewards?
  12. 12. Some Principles for Managing Visitorsin Protected Areas – A Preface Making tradeoffs between protection and visitation/tourism What objective ultimately constrains tourism development? Determine how much change is acceptable  Making tradeoffs, but involves more than just the biophysical, also includes the experiential, how much change is acceptable Principles derived from science
  13. 13. In a Messy World … Need a framework to work through issues, challenges and opportunities Principles help us do the working through Principles are not answers, but they serve as a framework to structure our thinking
  14. 14. Principle 1:Appropriate Management DependsUpon Objectives Objectives tell us what to achieve Help organize action Reflect social agreement on purpose of protected area
  15. 15. Objectives Provide Vision of theFuture But, whose future? Desired Various futures Present
  16. 16. Typical objectives “protect the resource” “provide a diversity of recreation opportunities” Do not provide specific enough direction for decisions Do not provide for benchmarks to measure progress Not specific enough, lead to an illusion of agreement when in fact there is significant disagreement
  17. 17. What are the characteristics ofgood objectives? Specific – not vague (e.g., protect the resource) Output-oriented – what is the desired result?  Type of experience, biophysical condition Quantitative – how to measure the objective so we know if it is achieved  So many people have achieved adventure, challenge, etc.  No more than 80% of the campsites have more than 50 sq. meters of barren soil Realistic – the objective is attainable with some effort Time-bound – the time frame for achieving the objective is specified
  18. 18. Principle 2:Diversity in Biophysical and SocialConditions Is Inevitable and May beDesirable  Human induced changes vary by location  Such changes also vary in acceptability  Is such variation desirable?  If so, allocating areas to different opportunities is a useful technique--allocation termed zoning
  19. 19. Example:Expected outcomes for visitors inGlacier National Park Nature appreciation Solitude Introspection Security Challenge/Adventure Group cohesiveness Personal Control
  20. 20. Motivations Occur in Packages Escapists  High on personal control and solitude Naturalists  Scenery, introspection and wildlife Parkists  Introspection, security and personal control Frustrated Solitude Seekers  Solitude, security and scenery
  21. 21. Visitor Data Glacier National Park Frustrated Solit ude 21. 9 Parkist s 19. 5 Naturalists 14. 7 Escapist s 36. 7 0.0 5.0 10. 0 15. 0 20. 0 25. 0 30. 0 35. 0 40. 0 Percent of Respondents
  22. 22. Variability in Acceptability Percent selecting picture with nine or more people, Swiftcurrent F rus trated Solit ude Park ist s Naturalis ts Prefer red Acceptable Esc apist s 0.0 10. 0 20. 0 30. 0 40. 0 50. 0 60. 0 70. 0 80. 0 Percent of Respondents Outdoor Recreation Planning Capstone 6 -- Fall 2002
  23. 23. Thus, No such thing as an average visitor!! Acceptability of conditions varies by visitor type Who is the park managed for? Finally, management is driven by variability more than averages
  24. 24. Zoning as a means of protection forboth biophysical and social conditions Allocates land to different opportunities and conditions Controls the spread of the types and amounts of impacts Protects unique and highly valued opportunities
  25. 25. Principle 3:Management is Directed atInfluencing Human-Induced Change Ecosystems are dynamic, change always occurring Human use occurs within context of change Underlying assumption that human uses threaten park values Protected area planning is directed toward the location, type and intensity of human-induced change
  26. 26. Some Visitor ManagementProcesses for Dealing with Change Carrying (Visitor) Capacity based Frameworks – 1960s +  Social, Biophysical, Facility Recreation Opportunity Spectrum based Frameworks  Recreation Opportunity Spectrum – 1970s  Tourism Opportunity Spectrum – 1990s  Water Recreation Opportunity Spectrum – 2000s
  27. 27. Some Visitor ManagementProcesses for Dealing with Change Limits of Acceptable Change based Frameworks  Limits of Acceptable Change – 1980s  Visitor Impact Management – 1980s  Visitor Experience and Resource Protection – 1990s  Tourism Optimization and Management Model– 1990s The Benefits Based Management Framework – 1990s Placed-based Frameworks – 2000s
  28. 28. Principle 4:Impacts on Resources and SocialConditions are Inevitable Consequencesof Human Use Any level of use leads to some kind of impact Can managers prevent visitor impacts from occurring?
  29. 29. What is the relationship betweenuse level and impact? Impact Use Level
  30. 30. Given this relationship … How much change is acceptable? How would you decide? Is this a technical question or a value judgment?
  31. 31. But, Setting Standards Means MakingChoices Among Visitor Experiences What standard should we use? Impact How do we decide? Setting standards is a function of human values. Use Level
  32. 32. Principle 5:Impacts may be Spatially orTemporally Discontinuous Impacts often occur offsite Impacts may take a long time to appear Secondary and tertiary effects difficult to ascertain and attribute Need to think regionally, the Whack a Mole Phenomenon
  33. 33. An example Campsite impacts too high,  Thus, closing campsites to reduce impacts seems to be a reasonable action. But, didn’t work Visitors create new campsites  Thus, the total impact is actually larger This represents a focus on the event (campsite impacts, not understanding the system)
  34. 34. A “Fixes that Fail” System Close Campsites Delay Delay Unintended Gap Consequence People createDesired Current Campsite new campsitesCondition Condition
  35. 35. Principle 6:Many Variables Influence theUse/Impact Relationship Use level may be important in influencing amount of impact, but Other variables often more significant  behavior  season  type and size of group  biophysical characteristics
  36. 36. Principle 7:Many Management Problems areNot Use Density Dependent Visitors seek many different things during a visit to a protected area Motivations such as solitude, adventure, learning, appreciating and learning about nature, family cohesiveness  not all of the above are adversely affected by number of visitors Other problems--littering, etc.
  37. 37. Principle 8:Limiting Use is Only One of ManyManagement Options Limiting use may be one management tool, but … It may not be effective in dealing with problems It controls use levels, but does it control impacts The problem of problem displacement
  38. 38. Managers have a box of “tools” available,but … to what extent do we want regulationand intrusive measures?
  39. 39. How Systems Thinking Can Help AvoidTraps when Limiting Use Limit Use Side Effects: Implement More Rules Unacceptable Impacts Shift Use Elsewhere Impact Visitor Experience Visitor Behavior and Development Patterns
  40. 40. Principle 9:Monitoring is Essential toProfessional Management Periodic remeasurement of key information variables or indicators Followed by evaluation and reflection Key attributes  feasible  objective  timely
  41. 41. Monitoring Plan is an Essential Partof Management Description of procedures How data will be analyzed, displayed and evaluated How does monitoring data influence planning and management? Personnel assignments
  42. 42. Monitoring Principles Where conditions are at or in violation of standards Where conditions are changing rapidly Where values are threatened by visitation Where effects of management are unknown Source: Cole 1989
  43. 43. Principle 10:The Decision-Making ProcessShould Separate TechnicalDescription from Value Judgments What is is not necessarily what should be Separate inventory from decisions about what should be done in time
  44. 44. Principle 11:Consensus among Affected Groupsis Needed for Implementation Shared problem definition Problem can be resolved through public involvement Inclusive Live with results Knowledge distributed equally Permission to act
  45. 45. Successful ManagementTechnical Public Process Engagement
  46. 46.  Implementation of plan Understanding social acceptability Representativeness Learning Ownership Relationships
  47. 47.  Many visitor management issues confronting MET Principles serve as a framework for thinking through Not answers, but ways to reflect In the long run, reflection leads to more efficient management
  48. 48. Thank You Perspectives on Protected Area Planning