User’s Perception of Beach Characteristics and Management in Summer and Autumn Seasons: The Case of Gran Canaria Island (Spain)
The beaches located in warm regions (with mild and stable climate) are spaces with a potentially continuous arrival of visitors throughout the year. That is a main difference with respect to temperate zones, where the increased demand for activities on the beaches and their surroundings are concentrated in the summer season. In warm regions, like the Canary Islands (Spain), there are differences in the annual flow of visitors in relation to the intensity of their arrival and their origin (local, national and international). In this environment, with insular character and limited resources, the management of beaches as a natural and economic resource, is especially important, as well as meeting the needs of users who visit them. Therefore, the knowledge of the user’s profile and public perception is an essential tool for establishing management measures.
The main objective of this research is to analyze the feedback from users of 12 beaches (four urban beaches, four semi-urban beaches and four natural beaches) located on Gran Canaria island (Spain). In particular the importance of the characteristics of the beaches (cleanliness, landscape, comfort, guarding and safety, recreational offer, quietness, access and parking areas, proximity, services, nature) and their perception of the impacts and the positive bio-physical, economical, and social aspects. The study is based on 1175 user surveys conducted in summer and autumn of 2013. The results indicate that, in both seasons, cleanliness of the beach is the most important characteristic, while recreational offer is the least. Although the prioritization of characteristics is similar between seasons, differences among groups of characteristics are identified, and also in the user’s profile and their preferences. Also, some opinions of users indicate that the characteristics evaluated as most important are perceived as the most problematic aspects. The differences found between summer and autumn could help the beach managers in the Canary Islands to adapt some recreational preferences of minority groups.
This is a contribution of CSO2010-18150, CSO2013-43256-R and CSO2016-79673-R projects of the Spanish National Plan for R+D+i (innovation), co-financed with ERDF funds. It has been developed through the program of support for research of the Canary Islands Government, also co-financed with ERDF funds. The first author was supported by a Postdoctoral fellow from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria - The second author was supported by a Beatriu de Pinós grant (2011 BP_B 0007) from the Agència de Gestió d’Ajuts Universitaris and a Ramón y Cajal contract (RYC-2013-13392) from the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (España).
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