LIETUVOS SAUGOMŲ TERITORIJŲ VERTINIMAS LANKYTOJŲ POŽIŪRIU: ĮŽVALGOS GLOBALIZACIJOS KONTEKSTE
Evaluation of Lithuanian protected areas from the view of visitors: insights in the context of globalization
Protected areas of Lithuania are important for the development of tourism in the country. The primary aim of these areas is to preserve biodiversity, but at the same time to organize various tourism activities and provide the society with access to ecosystem services and to attend natural-cultural objects. The purpose of this study is to discuss how visitors evaluate tourism services in different protected areas, to identify the weaknesses of such services and to provide key insights on how to improve the attractiveness of protected areas for visitors.
After conducting survey of visitors in selected Lithuanian protected areas (Dzūkija National Park and Nemunas Loops Regional Park), the following general conclusions emerged: both studied Lithuanian State parks have plenty of natural and cultural objects, the tourism activities in these parks mainly are developed in the direction of sustainable tourism and ecotourism – hiking, cycling, kayaking tours organised; nature attracts visitors to beauty and unique natural objects; visitors find the most information on the Internet, still the visitor centres remain less active. The survey showed that visitors value tourism services quite positively: at both parks, visitors were satisfied with the supply and quality of tourism services and infrastructure. It is probable that all Lithuanian protected areas of the specific status are characterized by general problematic fields: weak dissemination of information, lack of funds for infrastructure renovation, increasing the variety of tourism services, and reducing seasonality. In the context of globalization, the development of tourism in Lithuanian protected areas inevitably faces new challenges. With increasing visitor flow and the needs of travellers, there is a growing risk that the primary function of protected areas - the protection of nature against the negative effects of human activity - may weaken. Due to intensified international tourism, there is a lack of international communication tools and skills. A modern traveller or tourist is looking for an exceptional product, i.e. the product should be convenient, quick access, extreme, unique or never tried and etc., while larger changes in State parks are limited not only by financial but also by human resources.
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