Valuing Quality Changes in Caribbean Coastal Waters for Heterogeneous Beach Visitors

Publisher:
Elsevier BV
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Ecological Economics, 2010, 1, 69 (5), pp. 1124 - 1139
Issue Date:
2010-01
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The quality of the coastal waters is now a major environmental issue in Tobago due to its role in supporting the economically important tourism sector and for safeguarding public health. In this paper we report the results of two choice experiments designed to estimate willingness to pay (WTP) for an improvement in coastal water quality for two groups of beach recreationists: snorkellers and nonsnorkellers. Responses from 284 respondents were analyzed and included both locals and tourists to the island who participated in beach recreation. Latent class and mixed multinomial logit models were used in the analysis of the responses to explain the presence of any unobserved taste heterogeneity. An additional advantage of using these models was the ability to determine individual-specific WTP estimates for each attribute. The results indicate that individual specific-means of WTP estimates vary significantly between snorkellers and nonsnorkellers. The results from the analysis using the latent class model identified two subgroups with distinct preferences with the snorkeller group. Unobserved taste heterogeneity was better represented for the nonsnorkellers with a mixed multinomial logit model. This study not only addresses the lack of valuation estimates on this island but also demonstrates the importance of using estimation methods that account for individual-specific differences in WTP estimates. The inclusion of individual preferences is especially important in the context of a small-island developing country where there is a need to prioritise policy recommendations due to limited financial resources and conflicting objectives for natural resource management.
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