The Potentials and Pitfalls of Rapid Assessments for Visitor Management R.J. Payne Lakehead UniversityTransforming Visitor Management - Improving the Understanding of Protected Area Clientele with Declining Resources Centre for Applied Science in Ontario Protected Areas (CASIOPA) Annual Meeting Toronto, Ontario January 31 – February 1, 2013
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementIntroduction Context Parks Canada Ontario Parks Terms Assessment Visitor Management
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementRapid Assessments Visitor Impacts on Parks and Protected Areas Parks Canadas Visitor Activity Profiles Potentials and Pitfalls Visitor Experiences in Parks and Protected Areas Existing Data Sources in Parks Canada and Ontario Parks Potentials and Pitfalls Social Media as Data Potentials and Pitfalls
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementConclusions
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementContext Science-based decision-making and evaluation is better than alternatives Parks Canada National Parks Ecological integrity – first consideration Then, education and visitor experiences NMCAs Ecological sustainability, commemorative integrity and visitor experiences
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementSocio-political Pressures Generate more revenue Science under siegeVisitor Management Capacity Reduced: 2/3 of social scientists cut, service centres eliminated Direction: Real, inspiring, memorable experiencesOversight Auditor-General of Canada (Commissioner for Environment and Sustainable Development)
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementOntario Parks Provincial Parks Wilderness, natural environment classes → ecological integrity Waterway, nature reserve and recreation: not clear if ecological integrity is the primary objective Non-operating parks, not managed Conservation Reserves Beyond designation, not managed
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementSocio-political Pressures 86% of operating budget from tourism-related revenues (Eagles, 2012) Fiscal restraintVisitor Management Capacity Limited Direction: noneOversight Auditor-General of Ontario Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementTerms Assessment = Evaluation The Management Effectiveness Initiative (WCPA) The Green List (WCPA) Source: Hockings et al., 2006
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementSource: http://www.uwex.edu/ces/pdande/evaluation/evallogicmodel.html
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementVisitor Management Definition: Visitor management is the practice of ensuring that the visitor achieves a quality experience in an environmentally sustainable manner. Outputs: communication, interpretation, safety and enforcement Outcomes: visitor impacts on natural environments visitor experiences WCPA work focuses on outputs rather than outcomes
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementRapid Assessments Visitor Impacts on Parks and Protected Areas Parks Canadas Visitor Activity Profiles Legislation/policy basis Identify socio-demographic characteristics, servicing requirements and environmental impacts of activities Existing knowledge Afford designation of “appropriate activities” based in part on environmental impacts
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementAn example: Hang Gliding Deemed inappropriate Likely environmental impacts related to servicing the activity Parking, roads, vegetation removal Experiences PA related?
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementPotentials Existing information and knowledge Supports ecological integrity part of mandate Relatively quickPitfalls Appropriateness has been contested If appropriate, no determination of how much of the activity Activities are diverse (e.g., X-C skiing) and can change If ecological integrity is NOT a management goal?
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementVisitor Experiences in Parks andProtected Areas Existing Data Sources in Parks Canada and Ontario Parks Parks Canadas “Visitor Information Program” Pukaskwa 2006, 214 of 385 randomly selected parties
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementFrontcountry visitorsPurpose: to gather information on the demographic characteristics of visitors, to determine the visitor’s level of satisfaction with services and facilities at the site, to determine the level of participation and satisfaction with interpretive programs and activities, to determine the level of understanding of the site’s key messages, and to understand more about the visitor’s trip to Pukaskwa National Park.Potentials Regular, randomized, protected area-level survey Both quantitative and qualitative information
Rapid Assessments for Visitor Management Selected qualitative responses“Scenery is something else; Great park; Great; It was a magical “AWAHEE”; allwas on or beyond our expectations; Less mosquitoes! My next visit will be in amonth of August. (I love it here); Lovely spot; Nothing at all its beautiful thanks;The sun was shining. Scenery was breathtaking. Water was warm enough toswim in today; c’est beau; tout y est magnifique!; too many mosquitos at thecampsite; We had a perfect visit/experience.” Connections to “real”, “inspiring” and “memorable”, all emotional terms Experience → engagement?
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementPitfalls Nothing about visitor experiences except qualitative responses Agency capacity for analysis? At the national office At the protected area
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementOntario Parks Visitor Survey (campers, day use and backcountry users)Initiated in 1974, but recently delivered onlinePotentials 35,000+ cases
Rapid Assessments for Visitor Management Data on origins, park(s) visited, activities, experiences, expenditures and preferred management actions Weighted data available on a park by park basisPitfalls Analysis – limited capacity in Ontario Parks Direction – none for visitor experiences
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementSocial Media as Data Social media? Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin and so on Both Parks Canada and Ontario Parks use social media e.g., Pukaskwa National Park e.g., Ontario Parks Communication, promotion Data capture Parks and Protected Areas Research Group
Rapid Assessments for Visitor Management“Listening” → towards “engagement” with visitors or potential visitors Social media analytics e.g., Meltwater e.g., Sentiment Metrics Qualitative data about what people are saying about a protected area From a wide variety of social media platforms
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementBanff National Park Sentiments and Platforms
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementQuetico Provincial Park Sentiment and Platforms
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementPotentials Communicating AND listening Connecting AND engaging Agencies are involved in social media nowPitfalls Numbers (Banff NP vs. Pukaskwa NP) Capacity, especially in Ontario Parks Cost, but relatively small when compared to social research
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementConclusions Potentials and pitfalls associated with all three possibilities for rapid assessment All are substitutes for quantitative and/or qualitative research Pitfalls related to agency capacity to understand visitors, especially at the protected area level Social media offers high potential for understanding visitors experiences New, but engaging and unobtrusive
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementSelected ReferencesCole, David N. and Daniel, Terry C., 2003. The science of visitor management in parks and protected areas: from verbal reports to simulation models. Journal for Nature Conservation, 11, (4), pp. 269–277.Eagles, Paul, 2012. Budget implication of tourism finance of parks: Ontario Provincial Parks from 1996 to 2011. Paper presented at the 18 th International Symposium on Society and Natural Resources, Edmonton, Alberta, June.Ervin, J. (2003). WWF: Rapid Assessment and Prioritization of Protected Area Management (RAPPAM) Methodology. WWF, Gland, Switzerland.Hockings, M., Stolton, S., Leverington, F., Dudley, N. and Courrau, J., 2006. Evaluating Effectiveness: A framework for assessing management effectiveness of protected areas. (2nd edition) IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. xiv + 105 pp.Jurgens, P., 2012. Communities of communication: Making sense of the “social” in social media. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 30. (3-4), pp. 186-203.Mason, Peter, 2005. Visitor management in protected areas: From ‘hard’ to ‘soft’ approaches? Current Issues in Tourism, 8, (2-3), pp. 181- 194.Meltwater Buzz, 2013. Listening Module [online at http://buzz.meltwater.com/products/listen-module/].Secretariat, Convention on Biological Diversity, (n.d.) Protected Areas Management Effectiveness [online athttp://www.cbd.int/protected-old/PAME.shtml].
Rapid Assessments for Visitor ManagementSentiment Metrics, 2010. Social Media Monitoring. [online at http://www.sentimentmetrics.com/social-media-monitoring-tools/social- media-monitoring.html].University of Wisconsin – Extension, 2012. Program Development and Evaluation, [online at http://www.uwex.edu/ces/pdande/evaluation/evallogicmodel.html].