UNCW Researchers, State Coastal Agency to Survey NC Beachgoers

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Researchers from UNC Wilmington’s College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) will hit the beach this summer to survey visitors and residents about the state’s public beach and waterfront access points.

The state’s Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Program provides funds to assist local governments in building parking lots, restrooms and piers at access points along the coast. Survey results will identify how residents use these facilities and in what ways the program can improve.

“This is a people-driven process to identify what citizens want and need in their communities,” said Jim Herstine, associate professor and coordinator of the recreation, sport leadership and tourism management program.

This is the second phase of a three-year study with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. At different access points along the coast from Memorial Day to Labor Day, researchers including Herstine will distribute short questionnaires to assess visitors’ perceptions of the state’s facilities.

Herstine and his colleagues have already interviewed government officials and surveyed businesses from the state’s 20 coastal counties to learn how the program impacts economic growth. The information, combined with this summer’s survey data, will be presented to the Coastal Resources Commission next spring.

“This study will develop an evaluation tool to determine the amenities needed,” explained Herstine. “The data can help officials decide which grant proposals match the needs of the community and use taxpayer dollars in the most effective way.”

--Emily McLamb