Ingrid Schneider, Professor, Forest Resources
Scenic byways are a foundation for leisure travel: leisure travel accounts for nearly one -third of all long-distance trips taken in the U.S. In 2009, Minnesota's Paul Bunyan and Lake Country Scenic Byways undertook a study with three-fold foci to identify: 1) consumer awareness of each respective byway; 2) the byway's impact on quality of life among residents; and 3) the economic impact of byway travelers to the regional economy. Onsite questionnaires with residents and travelers characterized respondents' 1) travel and travel party; 2) level of awareness regarding the Byway; as well as 3) personal characteristics such as zip code, gender, age, and household income. Additional questions for residents focused on quality of life perceptions and residential history while travelers were prompted about their spending in the area, primary mode of transportation, and their length of stay. Descriptive and economic analyses revealed residents are more aware of the byway than visitors. Common byway information sources and opportunities exist to enhance byway awareness and residents' perceptions of its contribution to quality of life. Economic impact analysis results reveal that while travelers are aware of the byway, the byway still has a relatively limited influence on travel plans.