The aim of this study is to examine visitor expectations regarding the level of staff contact at the Cape Byron Lighthouse Precinct, located 2 kilometers from Byron Bay, NSW. The Lighthouse Precinct is managed by the Cape Byron Trust and seeks to provide appropriate visitor access and facilities to engage visitors with the local environment and simultaneously regenerate and sustain its natural, cultural and recreational values. Over 600,000 people visit the Lighthouse Precinct each year, of whom 66% are Australians and 34% are from overseas. There has been minimal research published on visitor expectations of staff contact in protected areas. This study interviewed staff to determine how visitors currently interact with staff at the site, as well as surveyed 244 visitors regarding their expectations. The most frequently identified themes that visitors currently ask relate to whales, the lighthouse and access to facilities.
Preliminary analysis of the results from the visitor survey revealed that:
41% of the respondents expect staff to be present during peak season and weekends;
The main services visitors expect are ‘providing information and answering questions’ (83%) and ‘selling food/drinks/souvenirs’ (71%);
68% of visitors expect café staff to be present and 59% expect a national park ranger;
Peak season visitors are significantly more likely to want information from staff about European heritage and about the lighthouse; and
Visitors over 25 years of age are statistically more likely to want information from staff about wildlife, native plants and vegetation, marine environment, indigenous heritage, European heritage, recreation opportunities, whales and whale watching than younger visitors.
Schielphack, J, Moyle, BD & Weiler, B 2012, 'Visitors’ expectations of contact with staff at Cape Byron State Conservation Area, Australia', Research Connections Newsletter, vol.4, pp. 2-3.
Published version available from: http://www.parksleisure.com.au/projects/research