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Special Issue "Sustainability of Contemporary Recreational Demand in Protected Areas"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainability of Culture and Heritage".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2020

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Assoc. Prof. Dr. David Newsome

Environmental and Conservation Sciences - College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education, Murdoch University, Perth 6150, WA, Australia
Website | E-Mail
Co-Guest Editor
Mr. Greg Simpson

Environmental and Conservation Sciences - College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education, Murdoch University, Perth 6150, WA, Australia

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The sustainability of visitation in protected areas is now in sharp focus in both the academic literature and popular media due to a massive increase over the last decade in domestic and international tourism combined with a variety of recreational interests. At the global level, general tourism is expected to grow from the current estimates of 1.3 billion to 1.7 billion international visits by 2030. While this prediction represents the whole gamut of tourism, the nature-based tourism sector is considered to represent 20% of the before mentioned tourist arrivals, indicating a steady and growing interest in people visiting natural areas and nature spaces. More and more people are now seeking to hike, camp, conduct scenic tours, and experience wildlife in natural settings. The increasing trend to visit national parks, nature reserves, and other protected areas has been particularly spurred on by public exposure to wildlife documentaries; environmental education in schools; the Healthy Parks, Healthy People movement; and the increasing body of evidence that being in the outdoors and in nature spaces is good for our mental and physical health. In addition to this, it would appear that the ‘see it all before its gone phenomena’ and ‘capturing the ultimate selfie’ are also strong drivers of public interest and visits to see wildlife, landforms, and scenic areas.

At the same time, there has been a burgeoning interest among people of all ages for undertaking a plethora of outdoor activities that particularly reflect interests associated with exercise, sport, and competitive events. It has been reported that these activities are associated with increased affluence and mobility and that protected areas throughout the world, such as national parks, are easier to access and frequently marketed as event settings and places of excitement and adventure. This shift in protected area usage has resulted in increased commercialisation and the profiling of protected areas as places where personal physical challenges, the use of vehicles, and activities that are not consistent with conservation are promoted and take place. Protected area managers frequently encourage and support such activities as a means of promoting their park to the rest of the world and/or as a mechanism for obtaining funds to compensate for declining park management budgets.

Massive domestic tourism loads in protected areas are exemplified by recent reports in the media about visitation to US national parks. The China outbound phenomenon has led to massive increases in international tourism, with the prediction that there would be 156 million Chinese tourists traveling abroad in 2018. Moreover, many of these tourists are seeking experiences in natural settings such as protected areas.

Following on from this, there are also reports of the impact of over-tourism in many parts of the world. Boracay in the Philippines has been significantly impacted by pollution, while Thailand is closing some tourism islands because of extensive damage to coral reefs. Furthermore, there are plans to set visitation limits to the Similan Islands in Thailand in order to foster sustainable tourism associated with recreational snorkelling and diving.

Recreation, visitors, and tourism are now recognised as the third most significant threat to the integrity and conservation function of protected areas globally. Furthermore, Protected Area Management Evaluations reveal that many protected areas including World Heritage sites are not performing to acceptable IUCN standards. Accordingly, there is a need to gather together some of the latest thinking in regard to understanding and addressing the previously mentioned trends, problems, and issues. We therefore invite contributions addressing over-tourism, high visitor pressures, relevant policy development, and management strategies concerning the rise in recreation and tourism demand in the world’s protected areas.


  • Over-tourism in natural areas;
  • Congestion and crowding in protected areas;
  • Tourism management;
  • Visitor management;
  • Management capacity and effectiveness;
  • Visitor carrying capacity in protected areas;
  • Visitor experience;
  • Limits of acceptable change;
  • Event policy in protected areas;
  • Adventure racing in protected areas;
  • ‘Loving our parks to death’;
  • Changing emphasis on the use of protected areas;
  • Planning for the combined mandate of conservation and recreation.

Assoc. Prof. David Newsome
Mr. Greg Simpson
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • tourism
  • over-tourism
  • protected areas
  • visitor carrying capacity
  • conservation
  • recreation

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
Sustainability EISSN 2071-1050 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
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