The tourism value of nature on Bonaire
Bonairean ecosystems support touristic activities that depend on the quality of the natural environment, such as diving, snorkelling, kayaking, boating, enjoying beaches, and participating in land activities. The tourism sector is an industry with substantial size and financial contribution to the economy of Bonaire. However, the economic value of the contribution of nature to Bonaire’s tourism has never been quantified, nor have the most important aspects of Bonairean nature for tourism been identified. It is essential that the economic value of the ecosystem service to tourism and the dependence of tourism on Bonairean ecosystems while impacting these same ecosystems be determined in order to further assist policy-makers in understanding this crucial relationship and support them in wise long-term decision-making.
To determine the value of Bonairean ecosystems for the tourism industry a survey among tourists visiting Bonaire is conducted. This study estimates the average expenditures of these visitors, as well as their Willingness-To-Pay (WTP) for protection of Bonairean nature. The result of this survey also elucidates tourists’ perceived value of different aspects of Bonairean nature. The socio-economic value of the ecosystem services for tourism is combined with spatial data to determine which ecosystems are the most economically valuable with regards to tourism.
The expenditure by tourists on Bonaire is found to be around $125 million annually. An estimated welfare of around $50 million dollars is contributed by Bonaire’s nature to tourism. Stay-over tourists are found to contribute more to the tourism industry than cruise tourists, and marine ecosystems are found to be more economically significant than terrestrial ecosystems on the island. The high WTP of tourists for additional nature protection in Bonaire provides opportunities for the local government to increase the current user fees of visitors to Bonaire.
IVM Institute for Environmental Studies