Author(s): Bhat MG
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Abstract The quality of the coral reefs in the Florida Keys is essential to sustain nature-based tourism in the Keys. The recently established marine reserves (MR) are expected to improve the reef environment, particularly coral and fish abundance and diversity. In this paper, a combined model of travel cost and contingent behavior was estimated in order to measure the non-market recreational benefits of reef quality improvements. The results indicated that an average visitor would undertake 43-80\% more number of trips to the Florida Keys and experience a 69\% increase in the use values per trip, as a result of the MR-induced reef quality improvements. The above non-market value estimates were further applied to evaluating alternative management proposals for funding the MR program. It was found that the annual management costs of the MR program would constitute an insignificant portion--only around one to 2\%--of the annual recreational benefits that the MR would generate. The results provide a strong economic justification for designing user-based funding mechanisms in order to make the MR program self-sustaining in the future.
This article was published in J Environ Manage
and referenced in Journal of Geography & Natural Disasters