Defining Indicators and Standards for Tourism Impacts in Protected Areas: Cape Range National Park, Australia
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- Moore, S.A. & Polley, A. Environmental Management (2007) 39: 291. doi:10.1007/s00267-005-0191-5
Visitors’ perceptions of impacts and acceptable standards for environmental conditions can provide essential information for the sustainable management of tourist destinations, especially protected areas. To this end, visitor surveys were administered during the peak visitor season in Cape Range National Park, on the northwest coast of Western Australia and adjacent to the iconic Ningaloo Reef. The central focus was visitors’ perceptions regarding environmental conditions and standards for potential indicators. Conditions considered of greatest importance in determining visitors’ quality of experience included litter, inadequate disposal of human waste, presence of wildlife, levels of noise, and access to beach and ocean. Standards were determined, based on visitors’ perceptions, for a range of site-specific and non-site-specific indicators, with standards for facilities (e.g., acceptable number of parking bays, signs) and for negative environmental impacts (e.g., levels of littering, erosion) sought. The proposed standards varied significantly between sites for the facilities indicators; however, there was no significant difference between sites for environmental impacts. For the facilities, the standards proposed by visitors were closely related to the existing situation, suggesting that they were satisfied with the status quo. These results are considered in the context of current research interest in the efficacy of visitor-derived standards as a basis for protected area management.