Tourists' willingness-to-pay for biodiversity conservation accreditation.
Fannin, Timothy Gower Donovan.
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Imperfect information on aspects of biodiversity conservation will constrain the extent to which tourists’ preferences for biodiversity conservation are revealed in game reserve (GR) tariffs, reducing the incentive for tourism businesses to invest in biodiversity conservation. Accreditation is an institutional approach to addressing the issue of imperfect information on biodiversity conservation. In this study, Choice Experiments (CE) and the Contingent Valuation Method (CVM) are used to estimate tourist’s willingness-to-pay (WTP) to visit biodiversity conservation accredited terrestrial nature-based tourism (NBT) destinations in selected areas of South Africa (SA). A survey of 97 domestic tourists and 96 foreign tourists was conducted at 16 private and public GR camps in north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal (NEKZN) and Mpumalanga/Limpopo Provinces (MP/LP) during October and November 2004. The survey captured socio-economic data to be used in discriminating between market segments, eighteen hypothetical CE questions and a CVM question. Analyses comparing the preferences of domestic tourists from foreign tourists, tourists visiting NEKZN from tourists visiting MP/LP and tourists visiting private GRs from tourists visiting public GRs were performed. In addition, Hierarchical Cluster Analysis (HCA) was used to identify groups of tourists with similar preferences. Respondents are grouped into three market segments according to their revealed preferences using HCA. Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA) was used to discriminate the three groups based on socio-economic characteristics. These groups were named “Conservation Vacationers”, “Incidental Sightseers” and “Big 5 Brigade” based on socioeconomic characteristics unique to each group. The region (NEKZN or MP/LP), level of education and itinerary (independent travellers or part of tour group) were the most powerful in discriminating “Big 5 Brigade” from the other two groups in the first function. The second function primarily discriminates Conservation Vacationers from Incidental Sightseers based on membership to a wildlife society, gender and education. Results of the CE and CVM studies respectively, indicate that, overall, respondents were willing to pay premiums of R114.41 and R87.67 per person per night (all premiums are presented as per person per night, unless otherwise stated) to stay at a GR accredited with having a high standard of biodiversity conservation. Foreign tourists were, on average, willing to pay the highest premium of R136.35 for biodiversity conservation accreditation, while tourists visiting private GRs were, on average, willing to pay the lowest premium of R 96.42. A further three market segments were identified using HCA. The average WTP estimates for biodiversity conservation accreditation for Groups 1(Conservation Vacationer), 2(Incidental Sightseer) and 3(Big 5 Brigade), identified by HCA were R171.41, R66.15 and R14.94, respectively. On average, respondents in all groups, game-viewing quality was most highly valued, followed by the level of congestion. Results of this study may be useful to NBT operators and managers in developing marketing strategies targeting specific market segments. Analysis of the results by market segments indicates that CE may be a more reliable technique than CVM. Further research on the costs and benefits of biodiversity conservation accreditation is necessary to predict the extent to which NBT businesses are likely to adopt biodiversity conservation accreditation.
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