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A temporal importance-performance analysis of recreation attributes on national forests: a technical document supporting the Forest Service update of the 2010 RPA Assessment

Informally Refereed
Authors: Ashley E. Askew, J.M. Bowker, Donald B.K. English, Stanley J. Zarnoch, Gary T. Green
Year: 2017
Type: General Technical Report
Station: Southern Research Station


The outdoor recreation component of the 2010 Resources Planning Act (RPA) Assessment provided projections and modeling of participation and intensity by activity. Results provided insight into the future of multiple outdoor recreation activities through projections of participation rates, numbers of participants, days per participant, and total activity days. These projections can be considered in managing potential shifts in outdoor recreation. In anticipation of projected trends, resources can be allocated appropriately by each outdoor recreation activity, or by the settings in which these activities take place. Decades of marketing and consumer research have established that an industry depends on and benefits from satisfied customers. In this study, we apply a widely used tool with origins in marketing research known as importance-performance analysis (IPA) to better understand visitor satisfaction with recreation settings on national forests. The results from IPA can supplement planning for improving efficient provision of recreation opportunities through management of setting attributes, which in turn could reinforce activity popularity and intensity. With the systematic and consistent data collection methodology in place from the National Visitor Use Monitoring Program, we assessed visitor ratings of importance and satisfaction on multiple attributes related to national forest recreation, as well as overall satisfaction and crowding ratings, over two recent survey periods (rounds 2 and 3) spanning 10 years. These attributes ranged from those in the natural domain (e.g., condition of natural environment and quality of scenery) to the developed setting (e.g., availability of parking and condition of parking lots). We classified the attributes into one of four IPA management actions and also conducted an intertemporal analysis to assess sustainability. The significance of changes in importance and satisfaction between rounds can provide insight into potentially problematic shifts, such as declining satisfaction in conjunction with increasing importance. Overall, users of the national forests were satisfied and found the attributes important. We identify relative overperformers and underperformers to better inform the allocation of resources within site type per attribute for the RPA regions and the Nation.


Importance-performance analysis, National Visitor Use Monitoring (NVUM) Program, outdoor recreation, recreation setting attributes, Resources Planning Act (RPA) Assessment, visitor satisfaction.


Askew, Ashley E.; Bowker, J.M.; English, Donald B.K.; Zarnoch, Stanley J.; and Green, Gary T. 2017. A temporal importance-performance analysis of recreation attributes on national forests: a technical document supporting the Forest Service update of the 2010 RPA Assessment. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS 223. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 34 p