Are interest groups different in the factors determining landscape preferences?
In the last decades, rural landscape in Europe has evolved from an agricultural by-product to an important
public good. This development creates not only new challenges to farming practices, it also makes
participation and public involvement an indispensable tool for sustainable landscape planning. This is
especially true for many European mountain regions, where tourism represents an important source of
income and conflicts between locals’ and tourists’ interests should be avoided. In our study, we analyze
whether discrepancies in the perception of the Alpine landscape can be located between locals and
tourists and, if these differences exist, in which aspects these two groups are differing. A model employing
three general factors able to describe landscape preferences regardless of the personal background
is suggested and validated by confirmatory factor analysis. Our major finding shows that an attractive
landscape for tourists does not have to be contradictory to a landscape that supports a high living quality
for locals. Compromises in landscape planning between locals’ and tourists’ requirements seem often
not to be necessary as they, generally, do not differ in the way they experience and assess the landscape.