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Providing information to respondents in complex choice studies: A survey on recreational trail preferences in an urban nature park

29.01.2018Comments are closed.


outdoor recreation,
discrete choice experiment,
task complexity,
choice attributes


  • Ivan Sever, Institute for Tourism, Zagreb, Croatia
  • Dr. Miroslav Verbič, Univerza v Ljubljani, Ekonomska fakulteta


This paper examined the recreational trail preferences of visitors in the Medvednica Nature Park, a protected forest area on the outskirts of the City of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. A discrete choice experiment (DCE) was conducted to get the insight into relative importance of different resource, social and managerial conditions in the park. Accounting for multiple site conditions requires a relatively large number of choice attributes, which may impose too high cognitive burden on respondents. On the other hand, ignoring relevant attributes may lead to the omitted variable bias. A split sample approach was used to find the balance between the possibility of omitted variable bias and cognitive burden; one version of the questionnaire used DCE with the lower number of attributes, of which some were multidimensional, while the other version used DCE with the greater number of more specific attributes. By using partial profile design in the latter experiment, the number of attributes in the choice task was identical in both experiments. Perceived difficulty of the choice task, self-reported choice certainty and choice consistency were similar across the two experiments. Heterogeneity in preferences and scale was detected in both experiments. Indications of non-compensatory behavior, and greater error variance among less experienced trail users were found in the partial profile experiment with more specific trail attributes, but not in the experiment with multidimensional attributes. Based on the research results, important managerial implications were derived. Non-visual sensory experiences of nature, namely fresh air and soundscape, were generally more important to trail users than visual experiences. Crowding was detected as an important characteristic of trail experience; however, trail users were willing to tolerate relatively high levels of crowding.


Landscape and Urban Planning, 169(2018), page 160-177


JCR SCI 2016 IF 4,563

The article is available here.

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