, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 683-698
Date: 29 May 2013

Valuation of National Park System Visitation: The Efficient Use of Count Data Models, Meta-Analysis, and Secondary Visitor Survey Data

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The National Park Service (NPS) currently manages a large and diverse system of park units nationwide which received an estimated 279 million recreational visits in 2011. This article uses park visitor data collected by the NPS Visitor Services Project to estimate a consistent set of count data travel cost models of park visitor willingness to pay (WTP). Models were estimated using 58 different park unit survey datasets. WTP estimates for these 58 park surveys were used within a meta-regression analysis model to predict average and total WTP for NPS recreational visitation system-wide. Estimated WTP per NPS visit in 2011 averaged $102 system-wide, and ranged across park units from $67 to $288. Total 2011 visitor WTP for the NPS system is estimated at $28.5 billion with a 95% confidence interval of $19.7–$43.1 billion. The estimation of a meta-regression model using consistently collected data and identical specification of visitor WTP models greatly reduces problems common to meta-regression models, including sample selection bias, primary data heterogeneity, and heteroskedasticity, as well as some aspects of panel effects. The article provides the first estimate of total annual NPS visitor WTP within the literature directly based on NPS visitor survey data.