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Visitor Management

Visitor management plays an essential role in protecting the ecological sustainability of protected areas, providing funding and business opportunities, and enabling visitors to obtain worthwhile experiences from their visit. Visitor management can be achieved in two main ways:

  1. by a park agency managing destinations (i.e. parks and their sites) and by directly managing visitors (e.g. through user fees). Or it can be indirectly achieved by
  2. a park agency working with the tourism industry to both protect the park and offer quality experiences for visitors, as well as generating revenue for the park. This chapter covers both.

For the first point, a range of visitor management strategies can be used including zoning, user pays, managing access and development, campsite planning and management, risk management, and spatial separation and removal of certain activities. Very often the difficulty is knowing, and then choosing which to employ (see Natual Area Tourism).


Browse Visitor Management case studies:

Zoning Schemes

User Pays Schemes

Site Management

Tourism Operations, Operators and Partnerships


Featured case studies:

Best Practice in Strategic Park Management: Towards an Integrated Park Management Model

Park agencies worldwide are faced with increasing demand for their facilities and services coupled with declining finances and human resources. The ability to develop a more comprehensive and relevant park management system to meet these challenges has become increasingly important. The main aims of the project are: (1) To describe, analyse and evaluate best practices and management benchmarks for the strategic management of protected areas; and (2) To develop a framework that will guide park management agencies in the strategic management of protected areas.

by Judi Inglis, Paul Whitelaw and Michael Pearlman

Managing People in Australian Parks – 2. Commercial Operations Management

This report reviews current practices of Australian protected area management agencies in regard to permitting and licencing procedures, and fees charged, for commercial tourism and commercial photography in National Parks.

by Ralf Buckley, Natasha Witting and Michaela Guest

Managing People in Australian Parks – 4. Asset Management

This report reviews current practices of Australian National Park agencies in relation to asset management: asset categories, strategic frameworks, information systems, valuation, age and condition, condition monitoring and maintenance schedules, budget allocation and capital works programs and budgets.

by Ralf Buckley, Natasha Witting and Michaela Guest

Promoting Persuasion in Protected Areas: A guide for Managers who want to use Strategic Communication to Influence Visitor Behaviour

The purpose of Promoting Persuasion in Protected Areas is to help protected area managers make better decisions and to achieve greater success in their use of communication to influence visitor behaviour. Many managers, and some tourism operators, see this as an important part of their job. While others can learn and apply the approach outlined in this manual, and while the methods can be adapted for influencing many different kinds of behaviours, this manual is written for protected area managers who want to influence the behaviour of people who visit their sites.

by Sam H Ham, Terry J Brown, Jim Curtis, Betty Weiler, Michael Hughes and Mark Poll