Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

The Protected Areas: Are They Still in the 'Pleasure Periphery' or Are They Destinations for Sustainable Tourism Activities?

Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

The Protected Areas: Are They Still in the 'Pleasure Periphery' or Are They Destinations for Sustainable Tourism Activities?

Article excerpt

Introduction

The pleasure periphery (in the sense of the wilderness and national parks according to Hall and Page, 2006) belongs to the most important spaces for recreation and tourism (Newsome et al., 2013). These two activities "have increasingly become significant as one of the main values attached to the wilderness and its conservation" (Hall and Page 2006: 278). The possibility of developing recreational activities is among the main motives for creating national parks (Williams, 2000) and tourism remains an important justification for park creation and its development even today (Hall and Lew, 2009). Similarly to the rural environment (Kayat, 2008; Santana-Jiménez, Hernández, and SuárezVega, 2013), these spaces particularly offer the opportunity of regenerating those people living in urban spaces, who have no possibility of every day contact with the "environment of nature" (Olwig and Olwig, 1979).

The management of the protected areas must meet two contradictory requirements: to contribute to minimising the human impact on its environment and to make it accessible to visitors (Marion and Reid, 2007). Tourism activities themselves provide considerable benefits to the protected areas but these same activities can contribute to the deterioration of landscapes, threaten biodiversity, and contribute to degradation of the ecosystems, too (Bushell and McCool, 2007). That is why conflicts between conservational and touristic uses of the protected areas usually occur (Young et al., 2007). Thus, tourists (as the main visitors to such environments) are the keystones of the appropriate planning management of the protected areas (Ogonowska and Torre, 2013) and elsewhere (Borges et al., 2014).

Environmentally-friendly activities done by visitors are supported by the management of the protected areas to prevent disagreements and to enhance the responsible behaviour of tourists (Leslie, 2012; Nicholls and Kang, 2012). Educating visitors (Munro et al., 2008; Leung, 2012; Tomljenovic and Kunst, 2014) and increasing their environmental awareness (Ballantyne et al., 2011) seem to be of crucial importance. A whole range of activities, (such as publications and websites, electronic educational resources, visitor centres, selfguided trails, and guided tours) are included (Newsome et al., 2013). The protected areas should become important destinations for sustainable tourism activities.

This change was initiated many years ago in Western countries (Newsome et al., 2013).

However, it has spread out even to developing countries (Lourens, 2007), as well as into the Central and Eastern European countries (Cetkovsky et al., 2007; Foret and Klusacek, 2011; Svec et al., 2012; Frantal and Urbankova, 2014; Kroupova et al., 2014; Bernat, 2014). A large amount of money is spent on work with tourists in the Czech Republic, particularly when it comes to environmental education. Those activities are principally concentrated in the national parks and the protected landscape areas, especially in the areas involved in the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme. These protected areas represent an important percentage of the area of South Bohemia and there are two important MAB areas in this region: The Sumava area and the Trebon Basin. South Bohemia was chosen as a study area for this reason.

The aim of this paper is to assess if protected areas are destinations for sustainable tourism activities or rather still in the "pleasure periphery". We have stated two objectives to fulfil the aim:

1. To compare the extent of the visitors' participation in individual activities within the protected areas to those activities that are performed in the larger tourist region as a whole.

2. To identify the types of visitors to the protected areas based on their main behavioural activities that are practised during the visit to the protected areas.

The research questions we would like to address are:

* What tourism activities are practiced more often than others? …

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