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Positioning parks to meet the needs of 21st century society

Moyle, B., Weiler, B. and Moore, S.A. (2012) Positioning parks to meet the needs of 21st century society. In: The 6th International Conference on Monitoring and Management of Visitors in Recreational and Protected Areas. Outdoor Recreation in Change – Current Knowledge and Future Challenges, 21 - 24 August, Stockholm, Sweden pp. 98-99.

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Most Australian national parks are managed by State governments and thus parks compete for attention with other government and non-government leisure and recreation providers and for funding with other government departments such as health, justice and education (Kaczynski, 2004). As a result, parks must establish and defend a market position through fostering positive images of the benefits they provide to visitors and society, which in turn will contribute to both stakeholder support and loyal visitors who re-visit and recommend parks to others. For parks, the attributes that make up a stakeholder’s image are widely understood to be a function of the benefits that a stakeholder perceives those parks can offer.

The construct of positioning, drawn from the marketing literature, has come relatively late to public sector organisations, but is now acknowledged as potentially useful for the sustainable management of national parks. However, the positioning of parks is more complex than for other products and services and its application to park management has received relatively little attention. Poor market positioning, where there is a mismatch between a park agency’s or an individual park’s projected image and the image held by its stakeholders, can result in poor customer support. Closing this gap by re-positioning is key to societal and political support. Re-positioning, similar to its parent construct of positioning, has received minimal attention in park research. Additionally there is limited evidence of the efficacy of communication interventions to achieve repositioning. By applying positioning in a park management context, this study contributes to testing and extending this and communication theories.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
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