Western Kentucky University

Poster Title

Changes to Travel Plans to Mammoth Cave Due to Weather and Covid

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Institution 22-23

Western Kentucky University

KY House District #

17

KY Senate District #

9

Department

Economics Department

Abstract

A better understanding of how people make decisions about travel plans can improve management of places like parks that people travel to. This research project uses data from a survey of 349 visitors to Mammoth Cave National Park to study how factors like weather and the COVID-19 pandemic affect travel plans. When looking at unfavorable weather during a park trip, a regression model indicates that students, those who drive farther, and those who are willing to donate to nonprofits are less likely to want to reschedule their trips to another time. Other demographic variables are not statistically significant predictors—either positive or negative—of wanting to reschedule. When looking at unfavorable COVID-19 numbers that may affect park activities, those who have a college degree and older visitors are more likely to say they would want to reschedule their trips. Those with higher income and people who report always wearing seatbelts—a proxy for risk aversion—are less likely to want to reschedule. Further research will look at alternative options for visitors, such as switching to another park or cave, canceling their trips, or keeping their plans, and seeing who tends to opt for each option and test whether that differs for disruptions from weather versus disruptions from COVID. Understanding these relationships can help better understand how travel plans are likely to continue to evolve coming forward out of the COVID pandemic.

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Changes to Travel Plans to Mammoth Cave Due to Weather and Covid

A better understanding of how people make decisions about travel plans can improve management of places like parks that people travel to. This research project uses data from a survey of 349 visitors to Mammoth Cave National Park to study how factors like weather and the COVID-19 pandemic affect travel plans. When looking at unfavorable weather during a park trip, a regression model indicates that students, those who drive farther, and those who are willing to donate to nonprofits are less likely to want to reschedule their trips to another time. Other demographic variables are not statistically significant predictors—either positive or negative—of wanting to reschedule. When looking at unfavorable COVID-19 numbers that may affect park activities, those who have a college degree and older visitors are more likely to say they would want to reschedule their trips. Those with higher income and people who report always wearing seatbelts—a proxy for risk aversion—are less likely to want to reschedule. Further research will look at alternative options for visitors, such as switching to another park or cave, canceling their trips, or keeping their plans, and seeing who tends to opt for each option and test whether that differs for disruptions from weather versus disruptions from COVID. Understanding these relationships can help better understand how travel plans are likely to continue to evolve coming forward out of the COVID pandemic.