University of Oulu

Miisa Pietilä & Nora Fagerholm (2016) Visitors’ place-based evaluations of unacceptable tourism impacts in Oulanka National Park, Finland, Tourism Geographies, 18:3, 258-279, DOI: 10.1080/14616688.2016.1169313

Visitors’ place-based evaluations of unacceptable tourism impacts in Oulanka National Park, Finland

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Author: Pietilä, Miisa1; Fagerholm, Nora2,3
Organizations: 1Department of Geography, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Fredriksberg, Denmark
3Department of Geography and Geology, University of Turku, Turku, 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, 2016
Publish Date: 2019-09-13


Visitors’ assessments of the negative impact of tourism, on physical and social environment, vary based on the location where the evaluation occurs. Research that focuses on identifying visitors’ norms within outdoor recreation settings has not been able to link the geographical location with the corresponding evaluation of unacceptable levels of impact. This study combines a traditional on-site visitor survey with a Public Participation Geographic Information Systems survey to produce spatially explicit information on visitors’ acceptance of tourism impacts. Using a web-based participatory survey, visitors were asked to indicate specific locations where they felt the effects of tourism disturbed the quality of their experience in Oulanka National Park. These evaluations were analyzed at multiple scales — destination, specific zones, and sites — to promote more efficient park management. Based on visitor evaluations, we found a collection of hotspots in the park where tourism has already caused unacceptable impacts. Visitors noted that crowding and erosion disturbed their experiences, especially along highly visited trail sections, while littering was considered problematic near wilderness huts. However, participant satisfaction at these sites was not lower than elsewhere in the park. This indicates that the association between negative impacts of tourism and visitor satisfaction is not straightforward, but complex. This study encourages the collection of spatially accurate data on visitors’ assessments of the effects of tourism because it has the potential to more efficiently direct park management policies. In addition, spatial techniques provide a new means to monitor the impacts of tourism, acknowledging that visitors’ perceptions of acceptability of tourism impacts also vary within tourism destinations, such as parks.

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Series: Tourism geographies. An international journal of tourism space, place and environment
ISSN: 1461-6688
ISSN-E: 1470-1340
ISSN-L: 1461-6688
Volume: 18
Issue: 3
Pages: 258 - 279
DOI: 10.1080/14616688.2016.1169313
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 519 Social and economic geography
Copyright information: © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Tourism Geographies on 11 Apr 2016, available online: