University of Oulu

Miisa Pietilä (2017) Do Visitor Experiences Differ Across Recreation Settings? Using Geographical Information Systems to Study the Setting-Experience Relationship, Visitor Studies, 20:2, 187-201, DOI: 10.1080/10645578.2017.1404350

Do visitor experiences differ across recreation settings? : using geographical information systems to study the setting-experience relationship

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Author: Pietilä, Miisa1
Organizations: 1Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2017
Publish Date: 2019-09-13


Managers of outdoor recreation areas must understand how certain types of settings influence visitor experiences to support preferred on-site experiences. Geographically explicit techniques need to be used to explore this setting-experience relationship because inaccurate measuring methods have resulted in a weak association between settings and realized visitor experiences. This study piloted accurate Geographic Information Systems (GIS) methods to study how visitor experiences differ across settings in Oulanka National Park (NP), Finland. Data on visitor experiences was collected in a map-based online survey. Visitors (N = 170) completed the survey after their visit to Oulanka NP by marking first the locations which they had visited on an electronic map and then selecting those experience items, such as relaxation and physical wellbeing, that they had felt in these locations. The study area was classified into four different settings on a continuum of primitive to developed, using measures of infrastructure, social interaction, and accessibility in GIS software. Mapped experiences were compared against the settings using chi-squared test. No significant differences were found in experience items across recreation settings. The results encourage continued use of GIS tools to study visitor experiences and their geographical contexts but suggest using more qualitative forms of mapping.

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Series: Visitor studies
ISSN: 1064-5578
ISSN-E: 1934-7715
ISSN-L: 1064-5578
Volume: 20
Issue: 2
Pages: 187 - 201
DOI: 10.1080/10645578.2017.1404350
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 519 Social and economic geography
Copyright information: © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Visitor studies on 18 Dec 2017, available online: