Vinsamlegast notið þetta auðkenni þegar þið vitnið til verksins eða tengið í það: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/23673
Wilderness areas have become an important attraction for tourists who seek contrasting experiences to their urbanized lifestyles. Simultaneously this increasing popularity also creates challenges for the preservation of the very natural and primitive conditions that these areas offer. Due to growing numbers of visitors in search of connections to sublime landscapes combined with easier accessibility, Icelandic semi-wilderness areas are becoming progressively popular. Increasing accessibility in many areas challenges management with finding the balance between preserving the fragile arctic ecosystems of semi-wilderness areas and providing various visitor types with their sought-after recreational experiences.
This study aims to assess visitors’ experiences and preferences for environmental conditions and infrastructure in semi-wilderness areas foreseeing increased accessibility. Þórsmörk, located at the edge of the southern highlands of Iceland, was chosen as a representative case study, as it is currently facing increased and improved accessibility. A questionnaire survey was conducted during the summer of 2014 and the data was analysed with particular focus on comparing the responses of day and overnight visitors. The results show that a large majority of both day and overnight visitors to Húsadalur, Þórsmörk perceive unspoiled wilderness as part of the area. The results do not show a significant difference between day and overnight visitors when compared on the Purist scale, implying that despite an expected increase in the number of daytime visitors coincide with increased access to the area, visitors’ composition on the Purist scale is not likely to change dramatically from its current state. However, growth in day visitor numbers to Húsadalur, Þórsmörk is likely to result in degrading wilderness values available for overnight visitors found through solitude. It is important that management of semi-wilderness areas is based on responsibly conducted frameworks to preserve not only the ecological health but also their attractiveness.
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