Beachgoers' perceptions of sandy beach conditions: demographic and attitudinal influences, and the implications for beach ecosystem management
Van der Walt, Marthienus Frederik
MetadataShow full item record
Sandy beaches represent typical venues for recreation and tourism worldwide, as well as part of the lifestyle and identity of coastal communities. Their overexploitation, however, threatens their survival. Especially in urban areas, beach management requires balancing needs by different users and obligations to protect beach functions, including conservation. In light of this, research about the human dimension of beach ecosystems has been advanced as a way to assist planning and decision making in beach management. This study assessed beachgoers' perceptions of sandy beach conditions in South Africa, by means of a questionnaire survey. The effects of demographic profile, travelling habits, motivations to visit, and recreational preferences on beachgoers' perceptions of beach conditions were tested. Beachgoers shared a general concern for the wellbeing of sandy beaches, with particular reference to the state of biodiversity and conservation. They also gave great importance to the values underlying beach ecosystems. Three motivations to visit groups and four recreational preferences types were identified. Demography, travelling habits, motivations to visit, and recreational preferences all influenced perceptions of beach conditions. The results from this study were used to draw management recommendations, with particular attention towards the promotion of conservation while also maintaining the recreational quality of urban sandy beaches. The results also highlighted the relevance of considering users' views as a tool in decision-making processes in Integrated Coastal Zone Management.