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Outdoor recreation in various landscapes: Which site characteristics really matter?

De Valck, Jeremy, Landuyt, Dries, Broekx, Steven, Liekens, Inge, De Nocker, Leo, Vranken, Liesbet
Land use policy 2017 v.65 pp. 186-197
bicycling, geographic information systems, land management, landscapes, outdoor recreation, people, planning, tourism
This paper investigates the role played by different site characteristics in influencing people's choice of outdoor recreation destinations. Contrary to prior studies, our experiment accounts for a large diversity of eligible landscapes described using photomontages. We use a discrete choice experiment (DCE) proposing respondents to choose among hypothetical destinations described in terms of eight site characteristics. We study the trade-offs made by various profiles of respondents among those site characteristics, resulting in different destination choices. The DCE attributes are spatially explicit to represent recreational patterns in the form of site quality maps using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). We conclude by stressing implications of this research for tourism and land management policy-making in peri-urban environments. Interestingly, preferences for site characteristics vary significantly with the recreational activities that respondents engage in. Hikers and cyclists preferences should be particularly considered in future planning decisions.