Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Lucius Hallett IV

Second Advisor

Dr. Lisa DeChano-Cook

Third Advisor

Dr. Li Yang


Perceptions, willingness to pay, protected areas, public use, nature conservation, parks

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Despite the fact that there has been a significant increase in interest in the sustainable management of protected areas (PAs), many of them still fail to meet conservation goals. Considering that the availability of financial resources and the general public's interest toward environmental conservation play such an important role in the successful performance of PAs, it is of great importance to investigate local residents' and visitors' attitudes and perceptions regarding PAs. This will help gain knowledge of the level of financial and social support they would be willing to give to environmental conservation in PAs. To elicit attitudes and perceptions, as well as their willingness to pay (WTP) for conservation, a survey was carried out in and near Retezat National Park, Romania. Results indicated that tourists have higher awareness of the importance of the PA, exhibit greater appreciation of its existence and are willing to pay higher entrance fees to support conservation efforts when compared to local residents. Although considerable differences do exist between local residents and tourists, a more successful functioning and management of PAs can be achieved by understanding both tourists' and local residents' attitudes and perceptions of nature conservation and by integrating them into future conservation policies.