Valuing beaches and reefs in Barbados

The Economic Importance of Coastal and Marine Resources in Barbados

This study on The Economic Importance of Coastal and Marine Resources to Tourism in Barbados is not new (it’s from May 2017), but it’s still worth a read. Here’s an extract from the study summary:

Barbados is experiencing extreme degradation of its coastal and marine resources due to overfishing, coastal overdevelopment, siltation, pollution, and climate-related factors. This degradation poses a direct threat to the viability of the country’s tourism product as well as its economic growth prospects. This report summarizes the results of an empirical study of tourists’ preferences, activities in the coastal zone, and willingness to pay conservation fees to manage coastal and marine resources in Barbados. This information can be used to identify and develop financing mechanisms for sustainable tourism development and allocate budgetary resources to outcomes that provide the highest return on investment.

Visitors to Barbados are heavily involved in activities in the coastal zone.

While Barbados is often considered a beach destination, it is clear that visitors also enjoy underwater experiences. Nearly half of visitors reported directly viewing the underwater environment. This result suggests that Barbados could successfully market itself as a destination for underwater activities, provided that the quality of the marine environment is enhanced or maintained.

  • Visitors place considerable economic value on the quality of coastal and marine resources and are willing to pay more for better sea-water quality, higher-quality marine life (including coral reefs) and wider beaches.
  • Visitors are willing to pay approximately US$275 more for a one-week stay where beaches are 12–16 metres wide relative to 6–10 metres wide. However, they would pay US$800 less for stays where beaches are very narrow.
  • Visitors are willing to pay approximately US$640 more for a one-week stay where coral reef quality allows for more marine life. However, they would pay US$1,000 less for stays where reef quality is poor.
  • Visitors are willing to pay US$1,500 more per week for improved sea-water quality. However, if sea-water quality worsens, they may not return at all.

These results have important implications for businesses in the coastal zone and suggest that efforts to improve or maintain the quality of the coastal and marine environment will enhance visitor satisfaction and generate improved revenues.

Both the summary and the full report are available online. The study was published by the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Related: Maintaining Million-Dollar Reefs and Beaches in Barbados and Beyond, from the World Resources Institute.

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