Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Jeffrey Hallo

Committee Member

Dr. Matthew Brownlee

Committee Member

Dr. Elizabeth Forys

Committee Member

Dr. William Norman


This dissertation demonstrates the exploration and use of conceptual and technological advancements in the science of visitor use management (VUM). The goal of this effort is to help better understand visitors to park and protected areas (PPAs) and more specifically, better manage our coastal and estuarine environments (i.e., coastal protected areas (CPAs). These concepts and techniques are 1) further implementing the use of cellphone data in recreation ecology and VUM, 2) assessing the use of advanced imagery, virtual reality (VR), in visual-based methods to determine visitor indicators and thresholds, and 3) assessing visitor’s awareness of PPAs and how it influences their perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors towards recreation impacts and management. Results from Chapter 2 demonstrate the potential for the use of cellphone data in VUM and the considerations necessary to utilizing these data sources. The results from Chapter 3 find that the acceptability for the expansion of oyster mariculture in South Carolina can be influenced by a relatively limited amount of information if given to the public. This article also explored the efficacy of VR technologies in field-based survey research and outlines best practices. Results from Chapter 4 conceptualizes, measures, and assesses a newly created Visitor Awareness Index (VAI) and finds modest differences in visitor perceptions and characteristics among the sample but opens the door for further research. To better manage and protect our coastal areas we must find better ways to understand visitor use and its impacts.



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