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Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie

The German Journal of Economic Geography

Editor-in-Chief: Henn, Sebastian / Thomi, Walter

Managing Editor: Schäfer, Susann

IMPACT FACTOR increased in 2015: 0.607

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2015: 0.315
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2015: 0.380
Impact per Publication (IPP) 2015: 0.439

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The role of protected areas in destination choice in the European Alps

Ulrike Pröbstl-Haider1 / Wolfgang Haider1


Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie. Volume 58, Issue 1, Pages 144–163, ISSN (Online) 2365-7693, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zfw.2014.0010, October 2015

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This paper investigates the role of protected areas (PA) for destination choice in the European Alps. It is based on the analysis of the most relevant types of PA (national park, nature park, biosphere reserve), constituting part of the supply of tourism development, and a representative survey of the German population interested in holidays in the alpine area, representing the demand. Our analysis of the legal framework showed that all three types of PA facilitate tourism development, albeit in different ways. The survey included a generic choice experiment of alpine destinations with 17 attributes. Its location in or close to a PA was included as one variable. This destination demand study in an area of origin provided a different perspective on the preference for PA compared to other studies, and revealed significant differences between respondents with and without previous experiences in the Alps. The alpine experienced tourist is more likely to distinguish between the various types of PA such as national park and nature park. For the inexperienced alpine tourist, representing latent demand, the branding effect of PA is rather limited. For nearly all tourists, experienced and inexperienced, and across all segments, offers that include a nature experience are important. Nature experience, which is offered by all types of PA, is of high relevance within the destination choice and should therefore be used more intensely in destination marketing based on PA. Overall, this study shows that the role of PA for destination choice is not as strong as is reported by most of the published literature, as most of these studies are based on surveys in the destination and use single item scaling questions, which overvalue the role of PA.

Keywords: choice experiment; segmentation; study of origin; match of supply and demand; nature experience

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