Improving visitor management approaches for the changing preferences and behaviours of country park visitors in Hong Kong

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Abstract

This study identified the changing preferences of country park visitors in Hong Kong and the potential for such changes to have further negative impacts on the ecologically sensitive areas of country parks. A questionnaire was used to collect feedback from 644 country park visitors to understand their preferences and visitation patterns. To investigate visitors’ preferences and behaviours and to develop better visitor management strategies, the survey data were compared with studies conducted 20 years ago. The results showed that the most popular nature-based activities of 20 years ago, namely, picnicking and barbecuing, have significantly declined in popularity, while other activities, namely, nature studies and nature photography, have surged in popularity in recent years. These changes in visitor preferences have directly increased the negative impacts of visitors on country parks as they dispersed away from the high intensity recreation zones to the ecological sensitive areas. This emerging group of country park visitors has not been fully considered in the existing approach to visitor management and may irreversibly impact the ecological value of country parks. In this study, visitor management in Hong Kong's country parks was reviewed based on these research findings, and potential improvements were suggested.

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