Crowding and visitor satisfaction during the off-season: Port Campbell National Park

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Moyle, BD & Croy, WG 2007, 'Crowding and visitor satisfaction during the off-season: Port Campbell National Park', Annals of Leisure Research, vol. 10, no. 3/4, pp. 518-531.

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Crowding in outdoor recreation has received considerable attention in academic literature, in relation to its ability to cause both physical and perceptual impacts. In particular, the influence of crowding on visitors’ satisfaction has received much consideration. Nonetheless, these studies have focused on crowding and satisfaction during peak periods of visitation. Focusing studies on peak periods seems logical, as this is when a destination experiences high visitation, and consequent potential for crowding. However, collecting data during peak season has an important conceptual issue; visitors particularly sensitive to crowding implement coping mechanisms, such as activity substitution and spatial and temporal displacement, and may not be on-site during potentially crowded times. This paper presents results of the influence of crowding on satisfaction during the off-season at Port Campbell National Park in Victoria, Australia. The major finding was that relatively high levels of crowding were still perceived during the off-season, and the influence on satisfaction was apparent. A leading implication for protected area managers is the recognition that crowding is not limited to peak visitation periods. Consequently, crowding should be considered and managed during the off-season, when visitors sensitive to crowding are more likely to be at the location.

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