Trekking through the crowds
: overtourism at U.S. national parks

  • Catarina Monteiro (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Overtourism in nature destinations, namely in national parks, is a growing concern, given its impact on the environment, jeopardizing the parks’ preservation, and its consequences for tourists’ experiences. Reservations are an increasingly widespread strategy to avoid crowds in touristic attractions, yet their effectiveness and implications for visitors in the context of nature sites and, particularly, at United States National Parks remain underexplored. Hence, the purpose of this dissertation is to analyse the impact of overtourism at United States National Parks on tourists’ experiences and their perspectives regarding the use of reservations to visit the parks. For this purpose, a qualitative analysis based on 1,200 user-generated reviews from 6 of the most visited National Parks of the United States was conducted using the software Leximancer. The results revealed that visitors’ experiences were characterized by 5 themes, grouped into 3 dimensions: recommendations (“park”), visitors’ motivations (“visit” and “hiking”) and consequences of overtourism (“crowded” and “wait”). Furthermore, the findings indicated that visitors' perceptions of overtourism were significantly more accentuated in national parks without reservations than in parks that require reservations, denoting the efficiency of this strategy. Overall, tourists who visited parks with reservations were satisfied with the impact of this measure on their experiences. However, improvements are necessary as critics due to misinformation about these requirements and malfunctioning of the reservation system were also raised. This study contributes to a better understanding of the impact of overtourism on visitors’ experiences and suggests practical strategies for park management to address this issue.
Date of Award29 Jan 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorHelena Rodrigues (Supervisor)


  • Overtourism
  • Nature tourism
  • U.S. national parks
  • Reservations
  • Online reviews


  • Mestrado em Gestão e Administração de Empresas

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