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Factors affecting the preparedness of overnight hikers in national parks: Insights from Tasmania, Australia

Nemeth, N, Adams, VM ORCID: 0000-0002-3509-7901 and Byrne, JA ORCID: 0000-0001-8733-0333 2021 , 'Factors affecting the preparedness of overnight hikers in national parks: Insights from Tasmania, Australia' , Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, vol. 35 , pp. 1-14 , doi: 10.1016/j.jort.2021.100388.

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Abstract

Visiting and experiencing national parks, especially hiking in backcountry areas, has become a global phenomenon. Park managers are often challenged by how to ensure that hikers are not harmed due to lack of preparedness. Rescuing injured visitors and recovering deceased can be expensive, dangerous and emotionally difficult. Prevention of harm rests primarily on visitors’ preparation (e.g., packing essential gear, conducting pre-planning, trail familiarisation). This paper reports findings from research using a combination of a systematic quantitative literature review and a cross-sectional survey to examine preparedness of overnight hikers to national parks in Tasmania, Australia – an internationally popular wilderness travel destination. Data was collected on the gear carried, socio-demographics, experience, information sources, and self-reported ratings of fitness, risk, and preparedness. Results show 13% of hikers had never previously completed an overnight hike. Safety items were less frequently carried; female hikers often missed items. We found a weak positive correlation in males between self-reported preparedness and fitness, and risk and preparedness. Better prepared hikers were more open to improved safety solutions compared with under-prepared hikers. Findings suggest interventions need to be tailored to visitor type, and may include education, advertisements, EPIRB check in/check out and fines for noncompliance. Management implications suggest using diverse intervention methods and targeting hiking behaviour to reduce future problems. Further research is necessary to validate findings in other countries.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Nemeth, N and Adams, VM and Byrne, JA
Keywords: risk, planning, management, hiking, protected area, systematic review, hiker preparedness, demographics of hikers
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
Publisher: Elsevier Science Bv
ISSN: 2213-0780
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/j.jort.2021.100388
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Copyright 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved

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