Who visits U.S. national parks (and who doesn’t)? A national study of perceived constraints and vacation preferences across diverse populations

Xiao Xiao, Kang Jae Jerry Lee, Lincoln R. Larson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The mission of the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) is increasingly challenged by underrepresentation of visitors from low-income and racial/ethnic minority backgrounds. To better understand attributes of Americans who do and do not visit national parks, we used data from a national general population survey (N = 4,103) to examine the sociodemographic characteristics, constraints to visitation, and vacation preferences among three groups of NPS visitors (recent visitors, past visitors, and non-visitors). Results revealed significant differences in constraints and preferences among the three groups. Black, Hispanic, and lower-income respondents were least likely to visit NPS sites. Compared to White respondents, they were also less aware of NPS units, more concerned about safety, and more likely to prefer alternative vacations such as sporting events, theme parks, and socially and culturally oriented destinations. Results underscore the need for the NPS to enhance relevancy and diversity by providing attractive and accessible recreation opportunities for historically marginalized groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Leisure Research
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • National Park Service
  • outdoor recreation
  • race and ethnicity
  • travel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

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