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Visitor management in Nordic national parks

image of Visitor management in Nordic national parks

Visitor management is a key tool in improving the recreational carrying capacity of the Nordic national parks, in light of the challenges presented by growing visitor numbers and new types of visitor behaviour. A more strategic and collaborative approach to visitor management can help protect and develop national parks and their local communities in both an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable way. This publication offers Nordic national park managers and national park authorities inspiration on how to improve their visitor management. It contains a collection of examples of what other national parks, within as well as outside of the Nordic countries, have done to improve their visitor management and suggests overall recommendations on how to create better visitor management within a Nordic framework. The publication is the result of a project supported by The Nordic Council of Ministers’ Terrestrial Ecosystem Group (TEG) and carried out in a partnership consisting of Thingvellir National Park in Iceland, Jotunheimen National Park in Norway and The Wadden Sea National Park in Denmark, with BARK Rådgivning as project manager.

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Stakeholder partnerships

Establishing a strong relationship with the national park stakeholders is key to creating a strong foundation for better and more sustainable visitor management. As the examples show, this can be done in a variety of ways: annual tourism forums for the small, local tourism businesses, discovery days where front desk staff from local businesses are educated on park values and experiences, a destination organisation formed by the national park and key tourism business partners that work together to strengthen the local tourism value chain, national park partnership models and education programmes for locals, businesses, volunteer guides, schools, etc. and the involvement of local stakeholders in the development of strategic plans. In all of these examples, the effort to inform, educate and involve the local stakeholders has helped build local ownership, pride and a sense of responsibility towards the value of the park, which benefits the protection of the national park and offers visitors a better experience.

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