Author: Marie Nowak , Tobias Heldt
Publisher: Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
The funding of recreational trails in publicly accessible nature areas is a prevailing challenge for the development of tourism destinations. In some cases, mandatory fees are neither ideologically nor legally supported, meaning that local stakeholders are reliant on the voluntary contributions of trail users. In light of the motivational barriers and uncertainties that hinder recreationists from donating, we tested behaviourally informed interventions to enhance cooperation in such settings. Specifically, we examined the effect of normative social cues on the share and amount of donations for mountain biking trails by conducting a field experiment in a rural destination in Sweden. Consistent with our predictions and previous studies, we found an increase in both the donation amount and share of donators after the intervention. Additionally, our research shows that the change in behaviour seems to be related to the belief about the donation behaviour of others, which can easily be targeted in policies. These findings imply that voluntary contribution schemes enhanced with normative messages can provide effective funding strategies for recreational nature-based trails. The importance of developing these strategies with regard to the local context is highlighted.