The impacts of location and attributes of protected natural areas on hotel prices: implications for sustainable tourism development

Abstract

This study analyses the economic effects of the protected natural areas and discusses the implications for public and private sector organisations involved in nature-based tourism development. To do so, we apply the Hedonic pricing method to address the variations of hotel prices with regard to the impacts of location and other proposed site characteristics, i.e. attributes of National Park (NP) Plitvice Lakes. The research results reveal a linkage between unique environmental and site-specific attributes and hotel rates. Hotels located close to the territory of the NP charge premium prices, whereas increasing distance from the territory of NP reduces the positive impact. This distance decay effect builds on hotels’ expectations regarding the opportunities for taking advantage of the NP. We argue that protected areas (PAs) are constituents of the integrated tourism product, influencing the price of the complementing tourism services, visitors satisfaction, and destinations competitiveness. The study places value on non-traded resources, which is often a prerequisite for acknowledging their importance and for the inauguration of policies promoting sustainable use. Thus, the findings have potentially significant implications for the design of pricing systems for hotels and accommodation service providers, the development of governance and fiscal policies, and the creation of marketing strategies for tourism destinations.

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Fig. 1

Source: prepared using ArcGIS (GIS software)

Notes

  1. 1.

    The main challenges of the tourism and visitation in this national park are, among others, high seasonality, i.e. more than 80% of visitors arrive during the July and August; visitor density and overcrowding especially near main sites (e.g. lake zone); and most recently decrease in average visitor satisfaction score on TripAdvisor due to overcrowding, waiting in lines, and disappointing condition of trails. (Management plan of National Park Plitvice Lakes 2019–2028; pp. 78–82; https://np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Plan-upravljanja-NP-Plitvi%C4%8Dka-jezera.pdf).

  2. 2.

    The hedonic valuation model is explained in detail in Palmquist (2004).

  3. 3.

    Refers to all of the hotels in the sample that were not part of the hotel chain, i.e. which operate independently on market. The information on hotel ownership was obtained via desk research from hotel official website.

  4. 4.

    Becerra et al. (2013) discuss vertical differentiation (i.e. competing along one product dimension valued similarly by all customers, such as overall hotel quality) and horizontal differentiation (i.e. offering a unique combination of product features that satisfies the needs of a specific customer segment).

  5. 5.

    Tobler’s first law of geography suggests that distance influences the relationship between two phenomena; i.e. things are related to one another, but distance between them dictates the strength of the relationship. Phenomena or objects located in close physical proximity to one another are more related than are phenomena or objects located further apart geographically (as cited in Joo et al. 2017).

  6. 6.

    0.0830—the coefficient; + 8.65%—the % change of the price related to the specific environmental attribute (eβ1 − 1) · 100; the absolute change in the price (a) minimum price p = 37€, change = 3.20€, (b) maximum price p = 127€, change = 10.99€.

  7. 7.

    Retrieved from https://np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/en/natural-and-cultural-heritage/natural-heritage/flora/#.

  8. 8.

    Retrieved from https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/98/documents/.

  9. 9.

    Retrieved from https://whc.unesco.org/en/soc/3753.

  10. 10.

    The term was introduced by the Federation of Nature and National Parks of Europe in 2011 in Shipp, D. (Ed.) (2001). Loving Them to Death? Sustainable Tourism in Europe's Nature and National Parks. Grafenau, Germany: EUROPARC Federation. It refers to the impacts of sustainable tourism development on natural resources and protected natural areas.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to express their gratitude to the management of National Park Plitvice Lakes for providing information, support, and permission to conduct a research on the territory of protected area.

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Mandić, A., Petrić, L. The impacts of location and attributes of protected natural areas on hotel prices: implications for sustainable tourism development. Environ Dev Sustain 23, 833–863 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-020-00611-6

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Keywords

  • Protected natural areas
  • Economic impacts
  • Hotel price determinants
  • Nature-based tourism
  • Distance decay
  • Sustainable tourism