Recreation use evaluation, management and policy implications of Taman Negara, the national park in peninsular Malaysia
Recreation has been a major force in enhancing the quality of life in a modern society. The provider must try to fulfil the requirements of the recreational users and has to focus on the quality of the products it delivers. As a recreational destination the National Park must offer opportunities to satisfy the diverse needs and requirements of the visitors. This involves establishing recreational participation patterns, preferences and the related demands and benefits to the users. In turn, a suitable user fee must be established and explained to recreational users in order to enhance their appreciation of costs. The study focuses on the evaluation of recreational usage of the National Park. The data acquired from the survey in the area established the background of the visitors in terms of socio-economics, leisure and recreation patterns, travel characteristics, on-site recreation attributes and the interrelationships between various activities. Besides, users perspectives in relation to the incremental and improvement of the facilities, the environment and related management approaches were recognised. These findings can be useful for the development of an integrated management approach leading to social and ecological balance. In addition recreational preferences were established by valuation of the opportunities of Taman Negara based on the willingness to pay responses of the user groups. Recreational use of the Park was later evaluated using the contingent valuation method. The demand for recreation use of the Park in its existing condition is attributed to foreigners, income, education, those not visiting friends or relatives during vacation, visitors pursuing specific recreational activities, visitors accompanied by friends and visitors accompanied by their families. The demand for improved facilities is related to Malaysians, urban residents, income, education and visitors participated in bird and wildlife observation. The recreational value for existing opportunities of the Park was RM211,939 per annum and value for opportunities if improved was RM304,086 per annum. The benefits gained by the recreationists for existing opportunities was RM175017 and RM267,164 per annum for improved opportunities. The suggested entrance fees were RM3.00 for existing opportunities and RM8.00 for improved opportunities based on total revenue obtained by the management. Finally information of recreational usage and its management highlighted from the study could be used to aid the formulation of the National Park policy and better management of this area.