Visitor segmentationa tool for tracking the management effectiveness of protected areas. Case study: paklenica national park, croatia

  1. Baric, Demir
Supervised by:
  1. Ana Macías Bedoya Director
  2. Petra Ani¿ Director

Defence university: Universidad de Cádiz

Fecha de defensa: 28 January 2016

Committee:
  1. Estela Inés Farías Torbidoni Chair
  2. J. Adolfo Chica Ruiz Secretary
  3. Carlos Manuel Pereira da Silva Committee member
Department:
  1. Historia, Geografía y Filosofía

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 398227 DIALNET

Abstract

Many of the world¿s protected areas are established for the dual purposes of ecological preservation and recreational use. Therefore, protected area agencies nowadays have common responsibility to provide the society a variety of recreational opportunities whilst, simultaneously, keep maintaining the integrity of their natural and cultural features. As demands of recreation and the closely allied nature based tourism increase, protected areas consequently appeal different types of tourists whose activity preferences, profiles and hence needs widely differ and who as such do not respond homogenously to marketing activities. Therefore, to find the balance between conservation and visitors demands, and to achieve effective and sustainable management of protected areas, a holistic understanding of visitors and their needs became one of the vital tasks for managers. Using visitors to Paklenica National Park as a target population, present research focuses on demonstration of the practical application of different visitor market segmentation approaches in the processes of evaluation of management effectiveness in protected areas. Visitors to Paklenica National Park were surveyed in August of 2013. Data were gathered by means of self-administrated questionnaire with a face-to-face approach. In total, 352 questionnaires were collected of which 97.1% (342) was considered as usable for further analysis. First, study illustrated the methodological process in development and validation of the measurement instrument for identification of visitors' desired benefits. Here, literature driven approach was used to test the relevancy of five hypothesized benefit dimensions, composed of eighteen recreational experiences items, on the general visitor sample. These were: Enjoy nature, Novelty and learning, Socializing, Escape and solitude and Personal achievement. The Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) process proceeded through two distinct phases. In the first phase, data fit for two competing models, orthogonal and correlated, was tested. In the second phase the reliability and convergent validity of measurement instrument was assessed. The results revealed that the model with correlated benefit dimensions reproduced the data better than the orthogonal one. Inter-correlations between hypothesized benefit dimensions were statistically significant and positive. Reliability and convergent validity indicated reasonable consistency of measurement instrument. The measurement instrument developed represents a reliable and cost-effective tool that may aid park managers in empirically evaluating at least a basic level of performance in visitor management. Second, benefit sought segmentation enabled to identify three distinct visitor segments. These were: Naturalists, Escapists and Ecotourists. The differences between the obtained segments were examined in terms of the importance of and satisfaction with the facilities and services provided by the park agency. The results indicated that the segments significantly differed in four out of six underlying factors. Yet, the results revealed that quality of experience (i.e. service quality gap analysis) for all three segments was adversely affected by the condition of general infrastructure, availability of informations and price. Given that these attributes were highlighted as the most important for all three segments identified, the findings provide managers with clear empirical evidence that immediate management action is needed. By combining benefit sought segmentation and service quality gap analysis study findings provided a series of useful information which can assist park managers in identifying visitor needs and prioritizing the further managerial efforts. Third, activity based segmentation enabled to distinct a two managerially relevant segments: Activists and Passivist. Segments were further characterized according perceived importance of desired benefits, travel behaviour, environmental commitment and socio-demographic characteristics. The findings revealed significant differences among the segments in terms of perceived importance of desired benefits, travel behaviour and environmental commitment. Socio¿demographic descriptors exhibited weak role in segment characterization. Yet, for each segment, inter-correlations between latent desired benefit dimensions were examined. The results indicated that all correlations between desired benefits were significant and positive. The informations obtained may assist Park managers to understand demand side in a more complete manner and to draw more concrete visitor management strategies. This research bridges the gap between visitor market segmentation theory and practice by broadening the perspective of its practical application for the purposes of the evaluation of management effectiveness of protected areas. The main theoretical contribution relates to providing new insights into visitor market segmentation as a powerful managerial tool in developing effective visitor management strategies. The results can increase the knowledge of protected area managers and service providers with regard to their customers as well as giving insights into the needs of diverse customer segments. The managerial implications of the research findings were also given and discussed.