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A Business Case for Marine Protected Areas: Economic Valuation of the Reef Attributes of Cozumel Island

José Alberto Lara-Pulido (), Ángela Mojica (), Aaron Bruner (), Alejandro Guevara-Sanginés (), Cecilia Simon (), Felipe Vásquez-Lavin (), Cristopher González-Baca () and María José Infanzón ()
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Ángela Mojica: Conservarion Strategy Fund (CSF), Washington, DC 20011, USA
Aaron Bruner: Conservarion Strategy Fund (CSF), Washington, DC 20011, USA
Alejandro Guevara-Sanginés: CENTRUS—Centro Transdisciplinar Universitario para la Sustentabilidad, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City 01219, Mexico
Cecilia Simon: Conservarion Strategy Fund (CSF), Washington, DC 20011, USA
Felipe Vásquez-Lavin: Facultad de Economía y Negocios, Universidad del Desarrollo, Concepción 4030000, Chile
Cristopher González-Baca: Director Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Cozumel, Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas, Quintana Roo 77600, Mexico
María José Infanzón: Independent Consultant, Mexico City 54769, Mexico

Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Felipe A. Vásquez Lavín

Sustainability, 2021, vol. 13, issue 8, 1-18

Abstract: Tourism to Cozumel Island generates USD 762 million annually in local economic activity, and 111 visitors stay in local hotels for each inhabitant. The island’s coast is its principal attraction, yet water quality and reef health are threatened. This paper studies the link between the local economy and management of Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, using a choice experiment to assess the economic value visitors assign to underwater visibility, biodiversity, and visitor congestion in reef areas. We found that, on average, tourists are willing to pay USD 190 per visit to avoid a projected decrease in biodiversity, USD 120 per visit to prevent a projected decline in visibility, and USD 98 to avoid high congestion during reef visits. We find high heterogeneity in willingness to pay estimates, which may be useful for targeting both conservation and marketing efforts. On the other hand, increasing the reef access fee from USD 2 to USD 6 could fully fund effective protected area management, with no substantial effect on visitors’ consumer surplus. Results suggest that a conservation surcharge could be added to all tours, with little impact on visitation, and that significantly increasing private sector collaboration and government spending on conservation would be good economic choices.

Keywords: choice experiment; contingent valuation; ecosystem services; protected areas; coral reefs; tourism; Cozumel; Mexico (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O13 Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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