Drive tourism has proven to be a popular sub-sector of the tourism industry, given its ability to offer tourists a substantial amount of flexibility and sense of freedom in determining what destinations to explore. Few studies have examined the future of the drive tourism with consideration to changing technologies and growing awareness to the impact of carbon emissions and Green House Gasses. Research has recently begun to examine the ecological consequences of park transportation systems. Some of these problems can be seen within the United States National Park System (NPS), as various park units are experiencing problems related to infrastructure and preservation of sites. As transportation plays an integral role within the NPS, the impacts of drive tourism must be considered. The study is founded on the premise that electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging stations will reduce GHG emissions, thereby increasing sustainability, supporting sustainable tourism and sustainable drive tourism within the NPS. In an effort to promote sustainable transportation efforts throughout the NPS this study investigates the facilitators that enable an EV infrastructure in some parks and inhibitors for other parks that have yet to develop an EV infrastructure. A qualitative methodology was adopted for this study. Data were analyzed using NVivo with findings being presented in case study format. The study, which offers a conceptual model and offers new definitions for electric vehicles and electric vehicle infrastructure within nature based tourism context, finds key facilitators to include: collaborative efforts through public/private partnerships, strong leadership within the NPS, and availability of funding; major inhibitors being: geography of park unit, lack cultural openness within NPS park unit, and regulatory policies. Current research has given little attention to the future sustainability of drive tourism, allowing this study to add to the academic body of knowledge. Additionally, the suggestions offered in the study are relevantly timed to what is happening within the industry.


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Graduation Date





Fjelstul, Jill


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Degree Program

Hospitality Management









Release Date

May 2023

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Rosen College of Hospitality Management