The tourism value of nature on St Eustatius (policy brief)
The tourism industry is an important pillar of the economy of St Eustatius. This is recognized by the Strategic Development Plan commissioned by the Executive Council of St Eustatius in 2010, which advocates diversi cation of the economy of the island. Developing the tourism sector is an important part of the plan. The historical heritage and ecosystems of St Eustatius provide touristic activities that largely depend on the quality of the natural environment, such as diving, snorkelling, enjoying beaches,
and participating in land activities, especially hiking. The economic value of the contribution of nature to St Eustatius’ tourism has not suf ciently been quanti ed, nor have the most important aspects of nature for tourism been identi ed for the island. To assist policy-makers in understanding the relationship between nature and the economy, it is essential to determine the value of the ecosystem services to tourism as well as the impact of tourism on ecosystems of St Eustatius.
To determine the value of the ecosystems of St Eustatius for the tourism industry,
a survey among visitors is conducted on St Eustatius. This study reveals the average expenditures of these visitors, as well as their Willingness-To-Pay (WTP) for protection of ecosystems and historical heritage. The result of this survey also elucidates tourists’ perceived value of different aspects of nature on St Eustatius. The tourism value of the ecosystem services is combined with spatial data to determine which ecosystem locations are the most economically valuable with regards to tourism.
The annual expenditures by tourists on St Eustatius are approximately $14 million. Around 70% of these spendings can be attributed to the natural environment. Marine ecosystems are found to be more economically signi cant than terrestrial ecosystems on the island. A high WTP for nature management indicates that there is an opportunity to increase the nature fees on St Eustatius. In addition, a positive WTP is found for extra management of the island’s historical heritage