A benchmarking method for visitor management by national park agencies
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Performance evaluation has only recently entered the lexicon of national park visitor management, in response to accountability concerns, commercialization of services, and fiscal constraints. Benchmarking, as part of such evaluations, is widespread practice in the hospitality sector but has been slow making its way into park visitor management. As such, the aim of this article is to develop and apply benchmark importance-performance analysis (BIPA), as a refinement of importance-performance analysis, to a system of national parks. BIPA, as developed in this article, provides a methodology for the meaningful system-wide comparison of attributes, such as the provision of information and the quality and standard of specified facilities, and of relative park performance. The parks managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife in Western Australia and their visitors are used as a case study. The case study analysis shows that BIPA is a simple, accurate technique for benchmarking the performance of a suite of attributes across a park system and the relative performance of the parks themselves, thereby providing much-needed data for system-wide planning and management decisions.
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