The National Parks Promotion Council (NPPC) held a first-ever Park Visitor Research Summit in Yosemite National Park Jan. 7-8. Some 70 participants came from the National Park Service (NPS), a dozen universities and colleges, concessions companies, park-related businesses, state tourism agencies and non-profit organizations working with national parks to serve visitors.
Substantial support for the meeting was provided by Delaware North Companies, the principal concessioner in Yosemite National Park.
At the summit, Greg Dunn, executive vice president at YPartnership, delivered a briefing to park visitor researchers from the 2010 Portrait of the American Traveler Survey, according to a news release. The survey is conducted annually, and the data for the 2010 edition was collected in the first quarter of 2010.
Dunn told the group that the survey focuses on households of $50,000-plus income, and the 2010 survey is based upon just over 2,500 active leisure travelers (at least one leisure trip in the previous year. This constitutes 55% of the total U.S. population. Of this group, 66% express an interest in visiting a national park. This group is mostly male (56%) and Caucasian (82%, versus 3% African American).
The survey suggested two seemingly contradictory developments.
First, the “Great Recession” has permanently altered travel attitudes of many Americans and especially Boomers. They are now more focused on value, and they are waiting longer to commit to travel plans. They use the Internet to be knowledgeable purchasers of leisure travel.
The inconsistency? Travelers today are actually happier than they were 10 years ago — 80% of these travelers report that economic adversity has prompted a new focus on priorities. They are proudly cost-conscious. Dunn labeled them as believing that “cheaper is chic-er.”
Of the park-interested travelers, Florida and California are top destinations, and 33% will travel internationally. These same travelers are environmentally consciousness, but show very limited willingness to pay for “green travel.”
Of the prime park travelers:
- 73% say life has become too complicated.
- Twice as many have an interest in spas as golf.
- 81% report planning a vacation around a “life event” – a birthday or anniversary or wedding or retirement – to create memories.
- National parks rank high as a dream destination (#2, at 66%), because they meet key traveler goals such as “beauty” (84%) and “safe” (82%). On the other hand, a key goal for many travelers is something new – and national parks rarely highlight new offerings.
Contact information for Greg Dunn is: firstname.lastname@example.org, (407) 838-1828.