Inderscience Publishers

The economic impact of national parks: the perception of key actors in Austrian national parks

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There are a number of empirical studies calculating the local and regional economic impact of national parks on communities. However, as these studies rely on quantitative data in order to calculate multiplier effects (particularly regarding local and regional production, value added and employment), the perception of communities is often left out in such evaluations. In this paper, a survey of mayors as key actors in 46 Austrian national park communities is presented. The results of the survey show that the economic impact of national parks on communities is perceived as contributing to economic development. Econometric estimations of ordered probit models exhibit the sources of economic success, which lie mostly in tourism and in the primary sector, in new investments and the foundation of new enterprises. Furthermore, there are a number of crucial elements of the planning and decision process which contribute to the economic success of national parks. The involvement of local and regional stakeholders is particularly important, as well as the co-operation between the national park administration and the communities.

Keywords: economic impact, national parks, stakeholder involvement, rural communities, economic success factors, economic failure factors

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