Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Forest Resource Management

Committee Chair

Jinyang Deng

Committee Co-Chair

Robert C. Burns

Committee Member

Jamison Conley

Committee Member

Chad Pierskalla

Committee Member

Michael P. Strager


Travel and tourism are recognized as the largest and fastest growing economic sector in the world. Different recreational and tourism sites can provide different types of activities based on their unique characteristics. Like any other form of tourism, the growth of ecotourism is dependent on the flow of visitors and therefore, marketing for a destination requires identifying various characteristics of the destination and preferences of stakeholders. The main aim of this dissertation is to classify and map recreation and ecotourism areas in West Virginia. The dissertation is presented in the form of three essays. The first essay classifies and maps classes of Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) in the state and examines its relationship with the travel and tourism generated revenues. Results showed that most of the areas in the state are Rural (R) followed by Semiprimitive Nonmotorized (SPNM) and Roaded Natural (RN). Visitors' travel spending was significantly associated with the urban class. The second essay identifies and maps forest-based ecotourism areas in the state using six different criteria and visitors' preferences. Pairwise comparison of Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) was used to compute the criteria weights from questionnaire survey of visitors. Significant variations were found in visitors' preferences. Areas under Class IV and Class V of naturalness continuum of both weighted and unweighted ecotourism maps covered more than half of the state's area, suggesting higher prospects for promoting forest-based ecotourism in the state. The results also indicated that each class changed in size when visitors' preferences were applied. The third essay performs sensitivity analysis of the criteria weights derived from visitors and experts' survey and maps the robust suitable areas for forest-based ecotourism areas in the state. Similar to essay two, pairwise comparison of AHP was used to compute criteria weights from experts. Results indicated that about one third of the state's area was highly suitable and not sensitive to the variations of criteria weights. The finding of this dissertation demonstrated ROS classes and forest-based ecotourism areas in the state which could provide helpful information to the resource managers and policy makers in terms of recreation and tourism development, marketing, and promotion. Results of the study were mapped using Geographic Information System (GIS) and Geographic Data Analysis (GeoDa) software.