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Relevance of crowding effects in a coastal National Park in Germany: results from a case study on Hamburger Hallig

Abstract

Coastal environments are popular sites for tourism and faced with an increasing recreational demand. Most of European coastal areas attract numerous visitors annually. In recreation research this management problem can be described in terms of carrying capacity which expresses the ability of a site or region to absorb recreational use without deterioration of natural resources and the quality of the visitor experience. As social aspects of recreation in Europe still have received little attention, the purpose of this study is to examine the applicability of the concept of social carrying capacity in a German coastal national park. The article addresses if the relationship between perceived visitor encounters, crowding perception and visitor characteristics is applicable by using data from an on-site survey (N = 509) of visitors conducted on Hamburger Hallig, Germany. It examines whether effects of overcrowding are measurable on a popular daytrip destination with established approaches. Results demonstrate that visitors to Hamburger Hallig are characterised by a heterogeneous visitor composition of local residents and domestic tourists with different motivations and who mainly visited the area for hiking or cycling. Study findings show that valuation for reported encounters and perceived crowding differed substantially among origin of visitors and sampling dates. All in all, respondents report a high level of encounter with others and in contrast a very low level of perceived crowding.

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Kalisch, D. Relevance of crowding effects in a coastal National Park in Germany: results from a case study on Hamburger Hallig. J Coast Conserv 16, 531–541 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11852-012-0195-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11852-012-0195-2

Keywords

  • Social carrying capacity
  • Crowding effects
  • Reported encounter
  • Wadden Sea National Park
  • On-site survey