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University of Bayreuth, Press Release No. 005/2024, 19.01.2024

Tour planning in north-east Bavaria: 86 per cent of outdoor activities are planned digitally

The Chair of Sports Ecology at the University of Bayreuth focuses on the compatibility of sport and nature. The fact that athletes plan their activities digitally can be used in visitor management and be of great importance for nature conservation.

More and more people are planning their outdoor activities with their smartphone.

The advent of digital technologies has significantly changed the way people plan and navigate outdoor activities. With the increasing availability of digital tools such as mobile apps or online platforms, outdoor recreational athletes now have a variety of options to choose from when preparing their next tour. Arne Schwietering, a doctoral student at the Chair of Sports Ecology at the University of Bayreuth, has taken a closer look at the digitalisation of planning outdoor leisure activities as part of the "Digital Ranger" project. The results have now been published in the German Journal of Exercise and Sport Research. These can be used for nature conservation, visitor and activity management and tourism.

"The results are very exciting," says Arne Schwietering, "Digital Ranger" project manager at the Chair of Sports Ecology at the University of Bayreuth. "There is a lot of digital planning and navigation. The planned type of sport is more decisive than the age of the user when it comes to choosing whether to use an analogue or digital source of information." This knowledge offers great potential for nature conservation - if nature conservation issues are communicated via outdoor platforms as early as the planning phase. "This means that recreationists can be well informed about the specific requirements and responsibilities before visiting protected areas, thereby promoting responsible and sustainable outdoor activities," says Schwietering. Currently, this is not always the case. This often leads to problems because rules are not adhered to.

In addition to Arne Schwietering, Prof. Dr Manuel Steinbauer, Professor of Sports Ecology, Dr Volker Audorff, Senior Academic Advisor at the Chair of Sports Ecology, Prof. Dr Manuel Sand, Professor of Sports Science and Outdoor Sport and Adventure Management at the University of Applied Management Erding and Max Mangold, PhD student at the Bavarian Forest National Park, were also involved in the Bayreuth study. "In order to identify effective communication channels, 410 recreationists in the two nature parks Fichtelgebirge and Franconian Switzerland - Franconian Jura (north-east Bavaria) were surveyed by 13 student participants in the project seminar 'Touristic models in nature sports' to find out how they plan and manage their outdoor activities," explains Schwietering.

User behaviour in the various phases of tour planning and execution is particularly striking. "In the planning phase, 86 per cent of those seeking recreation used a digital tool, and 73 per cent used one to navigate during the tour," says Schwietering. A number of conclusions can be drawn from this for effective visitor management: It must be ensured that visitors are reached with the right information at the right time via the channels they already use. In collaboration with the Outdooractive and Digitze the Planet e.V. platforms, the results of the study can now be utilised in practice.

The "Digital Ranger" research project, as part of which the study was conducted, is supported by the VAUDE Sport Albrecht von Dewitz Foundation, the Upper Franconia Foundation and the Rainer Markgraf Foundation.

The tools utilized for planning (left bar) and navigating outdoor activities (right bar) differ. n indicates the number of respondents, T the number of tools they used in total. Tools that were used by fewer than five people were categorized in “other digital tools” or “other analog tools.” Each bar is divided into three sections by two red lines: the top section represents the percentage of digital tools, the middle section the percentage of analog tools, and the bottom section represents the usage of local knowledge


Schwietering, A., Steinbauer, M., Mangold, M., Sand, M., & Audorff, V. (2023). Digitalization of planning and navigating recreational outdoor activities. German Journal of Exercise and Sport Research. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12662-023-00927-1

Arne Schwietering

Arne SchwieteringProjektleitung „Digital Ranger“ - Sportökologie

E-Mail: Arne.Schwietering@uni-bayreuth.de

Tel.: +49 (0)921 55-3482

Jennifer Opel

Jennifer Opel (on maternity/parental leave)Deputy Press & PR Manager

Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-5357
E-mail: jennifer.opel@uni-bayreuth.de