Beach user opinions and the development of a beach quality rating scale

  • Robert Morgan

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    As a pilot study into questionnaire investigation of beach user opinions and perceptions, a survey was conducted of users of four beaches (Southerndown, Nash, Ogmore and Llantwit), at the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, Wales. Beach perceptions were assessed in terms of socio-demographics, psychological parameters (Eysenck Personality Questionnaire and Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory) and related to the existing beach environment. Few changes to general facility provision could be recommended, but a number of management recommendations were made. Beach user gender, socio-economic status, planned length of stay and anxiety/neuroticism level were shown by discriminant function analysis to influence beach selection.

    A beach rating scheme was developed, based on a novel beach user questionnaire/checklist system. This questionnaire was used to interview users (n = 859) at 23 randomly selected Welsh beaches with regard to preferences/priorities for a wide range of beach aspects. Questionnaire data analysis generated scores which could be applied to checklists appropriate to other beaches of various commercialisation levels. Seventy Welsh beaches were assessed, producing scores from 39% (Porthcawl - Trecco Bay) to 69% (Broadhaven, S. Pembs. and Pembray). Landscape was assessed by panel judgements of a video panorama sequence, with scores for this aspect ranging from 19% (Prestatyn) to 80% (Broadhaven, S. Pembs.).

    The rating scheme took into account a larger number of beach aspects (47) than any beach award/recommendation in common use in the UK. It successfully took account of differing beach user preferences/priorities for various beach aspects and also the differing beach user demands at commercialised as opposed to undeveloped beaches. Many differences in beach user preferences/priorities were observed according to differences in stated preferred beach type, many of which could be important for management. In addition, pilot scale studies were undertaken at the Costa Dorada, Spain and on the Turkish Aegean Coast. For the latter, beach rating was also carried out.

    Future studies aiming to use stated perceptions, preferences and priorities of beach users to guide management should take account of possible influences such as beach user familiarity, expectation, cultural background and past experience. Much further work is required to develop beach user questionnaires to investigate aspects of beach user perception. Future rating exercises based on beach user preferences/priorities should take account of the need for beaches to meet minimum standards for the most important (as identified by beach users), beach aspects, in order to achieve a high rating or grade. The limitations of beach user surveys in terms of sampling difficulties need to be addressed. For valid management decision support, other stakeholders such as residents, tourist trade workers and those choosing not to visit beaches in particular areas need to be reached using other investigative methodologies.
    Date of AwardDec 1996
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorAllan Williams (Supervisor)

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