A plethora of studies have investigated motivations behind non-compliant behaviours at National Parks. This study focused on the non-compliant behaviour of visitors venturing off-trail at Blue Mountains National Park (BMNP). The Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) was employed as the theoretical framework for this study to understand the attitudes, perceived difficulties and social pressure involved in visitors’ non-compliant behaviours, and together with the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP), to understand environmental values.
The study adopted a mixed methods design with qualitative and quantitative research techniques. The qualitative stage elicited salient beliefs of visitors through interviews with BMNP experts (n=5) and BMNP visitors (n=22). Based on the elicitation study, a questionnaire was developed for the quantitative study (n=325) to predict visitors’ behavioural intentions to venture off-trail at BMNP. Results of the quantitative study revealed that the TPB predicted 14.8 percent (R2) in the prediction of off-trail behavioural intentions. Social norm was the strongest predictor followed by attitudes. The role of perceived difficulties and environmental values were not significant in the regression analysis when predicting off-trail behavioural intentions.
The main factors that motivated off-trail behavioral intentions included having a closer view of nature, and finding a shorter route. The reference groups of other visitors and friends emerged as important reference groups. Although the perceived difficulty factor as a whole was not significant, there were certain items such as lack/ no signage, lack of access to park facilities and challenging terrains that were significant in off-trail behavioural intentions. Lastly, BMNP visitors reported a high NEP score of 76, which reflected strong environmental values held towards general environmental matters. However, these strong general environmental values were not translated into attitudes towards venturing off-trail at BMNP, as reported in the non-significant results in the regression and mediation analysis. This suggested that visitors to BMNP had very strong pro-environmental values in general but did not associate venturing off-trail as contrary to their environmental values.
By demonstrating the significance of attitudes and subjective norms, this thesis will contribute to the advancement of social marketing campaigns for Park administrators and policy makers by providing guidance to develop preventive measures to increase park safety and decrease non-compliant activities at BMNP.