Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

A Conjoint Analysis of Preference Heterogeneity among Day and Overnight Visitors to the Okefenokee Wilderness

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

A Conjoint Analysis of Preference Heterogeneity among Day and Overnight Visitors to the Okefenokee Wilderness

Article excerpt

Introduction

Recent research has used stated preference techniques such as stated choice and conjoint analysis to develop quantitative estimates of the relative importance visitors place on selected attributes of the wilderness setting and the extent to which they support alternative management practices designed to optimize tradeoffs related to wilderness management. A strength of stated choice and conjoint analysis methods is that rather than asking respondents to express their preferences and provide importance weightings for a single attribute at a time, respondents are asked to rank, rate or choose among profiles that describe alternative configurations of the set of attributes under consideration. Consequently, respondents are forced to weigh tradeoffs among the attributes in the process of evaluating each profile. Thus, stated preference studies provide measures of the relative importance of the attributes being evaluated. In contrast, single attribute at a time question formats, such as those commonly used in recreation norms research and importanceperformance analysis, measure absolute importance which is subject to the possibility of a ceiling effect where all attributes are found to be important to respondents (Oh, 2001). As a result, stated preference methods may provide managers with better insight into how respondents would prefer wilderness setting attributes to be prioritized when preferred conditions cannot be provided for all attributes simultaneously. For example, while absolute importance measures tend to suggest that visitors prefer fewer encounters with other groups and freedom from management restrictions (Cole, 2000; Hendee & Dawson, 2002), relative importance weights derived from a conjoint analysis or stated choice study can help managers judge which of these preferred conditions visitors would rather "protect" when it is not possible to have both simultaneously. Furthermore, stated preference models can be used to rank alternative configurations of the study attributes (i.e., alternative management programs) from most preferred to least preferred (Teisl, Boyle, & Roe, 1996).

Recent applications of stated preference techniques to wilderness management include a study by Lawson and Manning (2002), in which they developed a stated choice model of Denali National Park and Preserve Wilderness visitors' management preferences by asking respondents to evaluate pairs of hypothetical wilderness management scenarios. Results of the study suggest that the majority of current wilderness visitors support permit quotas at Denali National Park and Preserve to protect overnight wilderness visitors' opportunities to experience solitude and to maintain relatively undisturbed campsite and trail conditions, while a substantial minority of visitors prefer freedom from management restrictions even if it means increased contact with other groups while hiking and camping. In a similar study, a choice experiment was used to ask visitors to weigh tradeoffs among social, resource and management conditions of the Yosemite National Park Wilderness setting (Newman, Manning, Dennis, & McKonly, 2005). Findings from the study suggest that, as with visitors to the Denali Wilderness, Yosemite Wilderness visitors preferred a certain degree of regulations in order to provide greater opportunities for solitude and to protect resource conditions. Other recent examples of stated preference applications in outdoor recreation research include a stated choice analysis of use and non-use values of forest recreation sites in Helsinki, Finland (Home, Boxall, & Adamowicz, 2005), a choice experiment designed to assess visitor preferences concerning the management of crowding in backcountry campsites at Isle Royale National Park (Lawson & Manning, 2003), stated choice modeling of mountain bike riders' preferences concerning trail characteristics and user fees (Morey, Buchanan, & Waldman, 2002), and a conjoint analysis of anglers' preferences for alternative fisheries management programs on the Penobscot River, Maine (Teisl et al. …

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