BISMARCK, ND – The North Dakota Department of Parks and Recreation saw an increase in visitation in 2020 with 1.29 million visitors to state parks and continues to maintain a high number of visits this year. While COVID-19 had certainly caused an increase in travel, the results of surveys conducted by the department show that this increase adds to an already loyal and growing visitor base in North Dakota state parks. When it comes to future trips, 74.6% of visitor survey respondents indicated that they plan to visit a state park in North Dakota in the next 12 months. At the time of the survey, COVID-19 had little influence over respondents’ future plans, with just 9.8% indicating their visit plans were motivated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The North Dakota Department of Parks and Recreation conducted surveys between December 2020 and February 2021 to collect information on travel, attitudes and demographics of visitors to North Dakota State Parks and North American residents. in the main geographic markets. This information is essential to understanding how park properties can be maintained and improved to improve the visitor experience and how park properties affect local communities. The survey program included three separate surveys for visitors, non-visitors, and residents of communities near North Dakota state parks.
High customer satisfaction was reflected as visitors rated the quality of each property in the park as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ and a high visitor return rate was reported at 86.4 % who visited a North Dakota State Park property prior to their last trip.
Visitor surveys reflected an interest in camping, viewing natural landscapes, sightseeing, pleasure driving, walking / hiking, and viewing wildlife. While visitors have expressed great interest in the traditional park offerings, the North Dakota Department of Parks and Recreation recognizes the clear desire of visitors to also have easy access to the digital world while visiting its parks. 85.7% of the visitors survey respondents would like to have Internet / Wi-Fi / LTE / 4G service available in the park, either everywhere in the park or only in developed areas of the park.
“North Dakota Parks and Recreation will continue to work to maintain and enhance the amenities that visitors seek,” said Director Andrea Travnicek. “While visit rates tend to be high, it will be important for our agency to continue working with partners to secure the resources of a modern infrastructure to meet client expectations and attract a workforce. solid work. ”
The top five services of interest to non-visitor survey respondents included outdoor exhibits, visitor centers, self-guided tours, indoor exhibits, and gift shops. Among non-visitors responding to the survey, the top three reasons for not visiting state parks more often were to prefer to visit parks closer to their homes, not to know what to do in North Dakota State Parks and the distance being too far from their home.
“The ministry plans to continue educating the public about the park’s offerings, improving park signage for increased visibility, and building new and existing partnerships,” Travnicek said. “The recent launch of the North Dakota Passport program also provides visitors with a comprehensive, easy-to-use guide to exploring the state at their own pace.”
Community survey results indicated that 72.6% of community survey respondents believe the tourism generated by their local state park contributes to the local economy. Additionally, 94.6% of community survey respondents have visited their local state park at least once in their lifetime.
The results of these surveys provide the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department with valuable data to continue to adapt to changing customer needs, serve a 21st century workforce, and support healthy and vibrant communities. For more information on the survey results, visit parkrec.nd.gov/news.
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