High demand for outdoor recreation and increasing diversity in outdoor recreation participants have imposed a great challenge on the National Park Service (NPS), which is tasked with the mission to provide open access for quality outdoor recreation and maintain the ecological integrity of the park system. In addition to management practices of education and restrictions, building a sense of natural resource stewardship among visitors may also facilitate the NPS ability to react to this challenge. The purpose of our study is to suggest a segmentation approach that is built on the social marketing framework and aimed at influencing visitor behaviors to support conservation. Attitude toward natural resource management, an indicator of natural resource stewardship, is used as the basis for segmenting park visitors. This segmentation approach is examined based on a survey of 987 visitors to the Padre Island National Seashore (PAIS) in Texas in 2003. Results of the K-means cluster analysis identify three visitor segments: Conservation-Oriented, Development-Oriented, and Status Quo visitors. This segmentation solution is verified using respondents’ socio-demographic backgrounds, use patterns, experience preferences, and attitudes toward a proposed regulation. Suggestions are provided to better target the three visitor segments and facilitate a sense of natural resource stewardship among them.
Environmental Management Vol. 43, Issue 6, p. 985-998