Charging for Nature: Marine Park Fees and Management from a User Perspective
User fees can contribute to the financial sustainability of marine protected areas (MPAs), yet they must be acceptable to users. We explore changes in the fee system and management of Bonaire National Marine Park (BNMP) from the perspective of users. Responses from 393 tourists indicated that 90% were satisfied with park conditions and considered current user fees reasonable. However, only 47% of divers and 40% of non-divers were prepared to pay more. Diver willingness-to-pay (WTP) appears to have decreased since 1991, but this difference could be due in part to methodological differences between studies. Although current fees are close to diver maximum stated WTP, revenues could potentially be increased by improving the current fee system in ways that users deem acceptable. This potential surplus highlights the value of understanding user perceptions toward MPA fees and management.
KeywordsContingent valuation Willingness-to-pay Tourism Marine protected areas Bonaire Caribbean
Thanks to the BNMP and especially Elsmarie Beukenboom, Ramón de León and Kerenza Rannou for providing data, logistical, and intellectual support; Leslie Laplace (Bonaire Flamingo Airport) for permission to conduct questionnaire surveys at the airport; Andrew Watkinson for guidance with study design; Brett Day and Jokin del Amo for help with methods; Ben Holt, Fernando Simal, Pauline Keynes, and Siomara Albertus for support in the field; Tim Daw and Julie Hawkins for comments on the manuscript, and all the tourists for completing our survey during their holiday time. M.C. Uyarra was funded by Fundación Caja Madrid and the Sir Philip Reckitt Trust.
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