Financing Marine Protected Areas Through Visitor Fees: Insights from Tourists Willingness to Pay in Chile
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- Gelcich, S., Amar, F., Valdebenito, A. et al. AMBIO (2013) 42: 975. doi:10.1007/s13280-013-0453-z
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Tourism is a financing mechanism considered by many donor-funded marine conservation initiatives. Here we assess the potential role of visitor entry fees, in generating the necessary revenue to manage a marine protected area (MPA), established through a Global Environmental Facility Grant, in a temperate region of Chile. We assess tourists’ willingness to pay (WTP) for an entry fee associated to management and protection of the MPA. Results show 97 % of respondents were willing to pay an entrance fee. WTP predictors included the type of tourist, tourists’ sensitivity to crowding, education, and understanding of ecological benefits of the MPA. Nature-based tourists state median WTP values of US$ 4.38 and Sun-sea-sand tourists US$ 3.77. Overall, entry fees could account for 10–13 % of MPA running costs. In Chile, where funding for conservation runs among the weakest in the world, visitor entry fees are no panacea in the short term and other mechanisms, including direct state/government support, should be considered.