International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online)

Attitudes and Perceptions of Local Residents and Tourists toward the Protected Area of Retezat National Park, Romania
Andrea B. Szell, Lucius F. Hallett IV

Abstract
Despite the fact that there has been a significant increase in interest in the sustainable management of protected areas, many still fail to meet conservation goals. Considering that the availability of adequate financial resources and the general public’s interest toward environmental conservation both play such an important role in the successful performance of protected areas, it is of great importance to investigate local residents’ and tourist’ attitudes and perceptions regarding protected areas. This will help gain knowledge of the level of financial and social support they would be willing to give to environmental protection and biodiversity conservation in protected areas. To elicit attitudes and perceptions of local residents and visitors regarding protected areas, as well as their willingness to pay (WTP) for environmental protection, a survey was carried out in and near Retezat National Park, Romania. Results indicated that tourists have higher awareness of the importance of the protected area, exhibit greater appreciation of the existence of the park and are willing to pay higher entrance fees to support conservation efforts when compared to local residents. Although considerable differences do exist between local residents and tourists more successful functioning and management of protected areas can be achieved by understanding both tourists’ and local residents’ attitudes and perceptions of nature conservation and by integrating them into future conservation policies.

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