Impacts of national parks on tourism: a case study from a prominent Alpine national park -National parks and other categories of protected areas are often assumed to enhance regional economic development due to park tourism. The current study attempts to estimate the impact of the Hohe Tauern national park (Austria) on tourism by exploring whether and to what extent the national park may have had an influence on tourism development. For most national park communities, the results suggest that the establishment of the national park had some impact by enforcing an already positive trend or by weakening or reversing a negative trend of tourism. However, breakpoint tests exhibit turning points up to several years after the establishment of the park, indicating that taking a national park as the basis for tourism development is a medium to long term development strategy. In the short term, the impact of a national park on tourism is not measurable. Tourism increased by 1 to 3% annually after the breakpoint, indicating that the establishment of a national park has to be incorporated into the tourism and development strategy of a region right from the start. The causal relationship between the establishment of the national park and tourism development may be weak, in particular in communities where the difference between the actual and the forecast numbers of overnight stays is small. Marketing national park tourism and building up a brand or distinctive label may therefore contribute to regional development particularly in the long term.
Key words: Tourism, national park, protected area, time series, stationarity, breakpoint test, ARIMA.
JEL classifications: R110, L830, C220.
Parole chiave: Turismo, parco nazionale, area protetta, serie temporale, stazionarietà, test di breakpoint, ARIMA.