Management of national parks requires balancing a tradeoff between protecting nature and its inhabitants
by preventing or limiting human access to parks and increasing awareness to its wonders by allowing people
to access its trails and public areas. For many years the common method for balancing the two goals was
to limit humans access in national parks to specific trails and visiting hours. During 2019 the Israel Nature
and Parks Authority (INPA) started to control access to its national parks through a requirement to set an
appointment before visiting. This initiative started due to the COVID-19 pandemic regulations that raised
the need to control crowdedness. Yet, the INPA still use this system to balance and control load in popular
Such appointment system needs to set a) the amount of daily visitors that should be allowed to visit the
park, and b) the number of appointment slots that the system will open before the day of arrival. The two
are not identical, due to the phenomena of no-show and appointment cancellation.
In this research, we develop two operational models. The first model determines the optimal number of
daily visitors that balance crowdedness and accessibility costs. The second model defines a dynamic policy
for the number of open slots in the appointment book, for the days before arrival. We study data provided
by the INPA, to understand visiting demand and people’s no-show and cancellation behavior. We implement
the developed models to data of two specific parks.
The models we develop can be used to control load in other leisure industries, such as campsites, theme
parks, and museums.