Attaching monetary values to environmental goods and services : an application of the travel cost method at Midmar.
Midmar is built on the Umgeni River, KwaZulu-Natal and is 1060m above sea level. The river starts as a small stream in Loteni and has a total catchment area of 906 square kilometres and an annual rainfall of 1016 mm. Midmar provides a multitude of benefits classified as either onsite use benefits or non-use benefits. This dissertation focuses on environmental economics and is concerned with assigning a monetary value to a given environmental good, namely, recreation at Midmar. This entails estimation of the demand curve for recreation at Midmar, and using this curve, establishing the consumer surplus attached to Midmar. The Individual Travel Cost method is used to investigate the nature of recreational demand at Midmar and essentially, measures the economic value of recreation use here. In addition, an examination as to whether consumers enjoy any consumer surplus associated with recreational demand is undertaken. The survey undertaken concludes that recreational visitors to Midmar enjoy a consumer surplus of approximately R71 per visit. Total consumer surplus for Midmar during 1999 was estimated to be R4.9 million. This suggests that the actual price paid by visitors to Midmar understates the true value attached to such a visit and hence, park management needs to be aware of this. Finally, this dissertation emphasizes the importance and potential use of research such as this which could assist and guide future planning and decision making in South Africa.