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Study: Pandemic Brought Unexpected Changes in Outdoor Recreation

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While almost all outdoor recreation locations saw huge increases in the number of visitors during the pandemic, a Penn State study found that over 13% of Americans stopped participating in outdoor recreation during the same time.

According to a report, researchers from Pennsylvania State’s Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management discovered that almost half of adults all over the U.S. now participate in outdoor rec each month and that around 20% could be new to outdoor recreation during the pandemic.

The new outdoor enthusiasts were demographically similar to those who usually participate in outdoor recreation: predominantly white, and with high socioeconomic standing.

However, over 13% of Americans who stopped participating in outdoor rec during the outbreak were more diverse, were more likely to live in urban settings, and earn less per year than the existing or new recreationists.

“This raises major concerns regarding demographic discrepancies with access and equity,” said B. Derrick Taff, associate professor of recreation, park, and tourism management.

Park managers and policymakers need to develop policies and programming that foster participation by everyone, especially in their local parks. Not everyone can afford to travel to Yellowstone, but everyone deserves access to nature and the associated health benefits of outdoor recreation, somewhere close to home.”

He urged park managers and policymakers to keep promoting the benefits of outdoor recreation to encourage healthy participation.

He also highlighted the importance of ensuring that people feel secure and comfortable and aligning leisure opportunities with people’s preferences for activities and settings.

Andrew Mowen, professor of recreation, park and tourist management, and other researchers are investigating how parks can address racial and social inequities.

Local parks are free and supposed to be accessible to all; however, people of color are still subject to racism that hinders them from going to parks. Views of parks as unsafe or unwelcoming can limit their use and, in turn, limit access to benefits from parks.

“In parks, as in the rest of life, people need to feel welcome. Beyond that, they want to feel that they have a voice, that they have some agency. When people get to participate in the decisions about what happens in their park, that is when it really begins to feel like a place for them.”

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Modern Campground

Modern Campground

Modern Campground is the most innovative news source in the Outdoor Hospitality industry. We provide global news coverage for RV Park and Campground owners, operators, managers, and their team members.
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