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Managing Human Activity and Tourism Impacts: A Case Study of Zeke's Island Reserve, North Carolina

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Managers are consistently challenged to reconcile the impacts of recreational activity and tourism with protection of the integrity of the natural resources upon which these experiences depend. In the absence of opportunities for active resource management, the ability of natural mitigation processes to sustain natural resources becomes a critical attribute of resource viability. This case study, therefore, examines the relationship between natural mitigation processes and a specific form of tourist management—signage—on the Zeke's Island Component of the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve Program (NCNERR). The island features of the Zeke's Island Component of the NCNERR are primarily accessible by small boat. Activities common for tourists to engage in at the Reserve are fishing, swimming, hiking, bird watching, and camping. Phase # of the study examined whether, given the absence of visitor management, natural processes mitigate recreation and tourism impacts caused by these activities. Phase #2 of the study examined whether the use of signs is an effective passive management technique in restricting recreation and tourism camping behavior. The results of the study indicate that: 1) natural processes mitigate most, but not all, recreation and tourism impacts on the subject site, and 2) signage can be an effective approach for passively managing human behavior and tourism in natural resource settings.
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Keywords: COASTAL MANAGEMENT; NATIONAL ESTUARINE RESEARCH RESERVE PROGRAM; RECREATION; SIGNS; TOURISM MANAGEMENT; VISITOR MANAGEMENT

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2006

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  • Tourism in Marine Environments is an interdisciplinary journal dealing with a variety of management issues in marine settings. It is a scientific journal that draws upon the expertise of academics and practitioners from various disciplines related to the marine environment, including tourism, marine science, geography, social sciences, psychology, environmental studies, economics, marketing, and many more.
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