Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type




Director of Thesis

Dr. Andrew Kaczynski

First Reader

Dr. Sonja Wilhelm Stanis

Second Reader

Dr. Sonja Wilhelm Stanis


The National Park Service (NPS) has often been called “America’s Best Idea” and over 400 areas are preserved and protected by the NPS for the public’s enjoyment. When examining current visitor trends, vast differences exist in the number of White versus racial/ethnic minority visitors, as well as a lack of young adult visitors to the parks. The overall goal of this project is to better understand visitation to NPS sites by college students from diverse demographic groups.

This study was conducted with participants from the University of South Carolina undergraduate population. The ethnicity and race of participants were captured using questions from the United States Census. Factors that influence participants' visitation were measured using scales representing motivations and constraints. For motivations, we evaluated the importance of 13 items and for constraints, we assessed the salience of 16 factors. Both dimensions were measured on a Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Survey data were collected from a total of 459 students. Multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) was used to explore differences in motivations for and constraints to NPS visitation according to race/ethnicity, controlling for other key covariates.

This study identified key motivations and constraints for young adult visitors to sites in the NPS. We also found differences in constraints between Non-Hispanic Whites and racial/ethnic minorities. Findings from this study will be used to make recommendations for the NPS on how to attract both young adult and minority visitors.

First Page


Last Page



© 2021, Julia Sultz