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Investigating acceptance of marine tourism levies, to cover the opportunity costs of conservation for coastal communities

Booth, Hollie, Mourato, Susana ORCID: 0000-0002-9361-9990 and Milner-Gulland, E. J. (2022) Investigating acceptance of marine tourism levies, to cover the opportunity costs of conservation for coastal communities. Ecological Economics, 201. ISSN 0921-8009

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2022.107578


Marine tourism is promoted as a substitute economic activity to unsustainable fishing, which is compatible with conservation. However, benefits of marine tourism do not typically accrue in small-scale fisheries (SSFs), which often bear the costs of conservation; they accrue to tourists and tourist-focussed businesses. We explored how marine tourism levies could operationalise the beneficiary-pays principle and address these cost-benefit inequities using an online contingent valuation (CV) survey to measure international tourists' willingness-to-pay (WTP) towards community-based shark conservation (N = 1033). Levies were widely supported (96%), with median and Turnbull mean WTP of US$ 10–14.99 and $22.02 per person per day, respectively. We combined these results with data from two marine tourism hotspots in Indonesia – Lombok and Pulau Weh – to explore the feasibility of implementing tourism levies to incentivize pro-conservation behaviour in local SSFs. Our conservative estimates indicate that marine tourism levies in Lombok and Pulau Weh could respectively generate US$ 2.3–10 million and US$ 300,000–1.3 million annually – several times greater than the estimated costs of conservation incentives in local SSFs. The marine tourism industry offers an under-utilised revenue stream for marine conservation, which could support policy aspirations such as ‘a sustainable and equitable blue economy’.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author(s).
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2022 14:33
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2022 09:45

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