The walking tourist: How do the perceptions of tourists and locals compare?

  • YEAR
    Dihingia, Swarnali
    Gjerde, Morten
    Vale, Brenda
    2022 Conference Papers
    Conference Papers


Walking is known to be a healthy and sustainable way of moving about the city, particularly in comparison with motorised forms of transport. For these and other reasons, there is a growing interest amongst urban planners and policy makers in enhancing conditions for walkers. Growing the number of people walking makes sense from the perspectives of public health, reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and social sustainability. This also applies to people visiting a city; tourists are increasingly walking to get to know the places they visit from the footpath. However, there is little known about their experiences. This research addresses the question of how visitors perceive and evaluate the city they are visiting when they walk. Comparisons are made with the experience of local residents. The paper examines the relatively overlooked domain of tourist walkability and investigates the extent to which accessibility and topography may influence walking experiences. Data was gathered from a Walk Diary in which respondents evaluated the environment along a single walk. Responses were received through convenience sampling from 132 people in two New Zealand cities: Christchurch and Wellington. The Walk Diary provided an effective way of capturing differences between locals and tourists when they walk. Insights from this study will be particularly useful to those tasked with enhancing people’s urban walking experience.

Keywords: walking; tourists; accessibility; walking experience.


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