Tourism is an important source of income for most Small Island Developing States (SIDS), including Saba. This study aims to value the services provided by nature to the tourism industry on Saba. The natural landscape, the coastal waters, the tranquillity and friendly local people are highly appreciated by tourists that visit the island. Healthy ecosystems are therefore crucial to the island. Human activities like development in the tourism industry are relevant to facilitate development of the island, on the other hand, have an impact on the natural environment. In order to fully understand this paradoxical relationship, the economic value of the cultural and recreational ecosystem services to tourists and the economic contribution of nature to the tourism sector on Saba are determined. Transparency about these values and the beneficiaries of ecosystem services can support the local and national government and other stakeholders in decision-making processes.
These values are retrieved using a Choice Modelling method. During six weeks, a total of 390 visitors on Saba and Statia have been interviewed. 200 of these respondents were interviewed during their stay on Saba. With the use of a choice experiment, the willingness to pay (WTP) of tourists for the maintenance or improvement of nature and other island aspects is determined. The results also show the preferences of tourists concerning the different ecosystems and other island aspects. Characteristics, expenditures and perceptions about Saban nature of visitors are retrieved through the complementary survey.
This study also made clear that next to ecosystem-based activities, tourists highly appreciate other island aspects such as the tranquillity, the friendly local people and visiting archaeological heritage. These aspects are part of the attractiveness of the islands and should be taken into account when growth in the tourism sector is desired. The total revenue by the tourism industry of Saba is estimated to be almost 6 million USD per year. The results from the survey demonstrate that tourists are willing to pay an additional amount of 1.6 million USD for extra nature conservation efforts on the island.