An Economic and Social Study of the Saba Marine Park, Saba, Netherlands Antilles.
The Dutch island of Saba in the North Eastern Caribbean has been surrounded by a protected area since 1987. This area known as the Saba Marine Park was developed as a result of a project initiated in 1984 by the Central Government of the Netherlands Antilles which was aimed at strengthening the economy of Saba through dive tourism. In 1987 the Saba Marine Park (SMP) was officially established through the Marine Environment Ordinance, Saba and within six years became self-financed, by charging user fees, selling souvenirs and accepting donations. In 1994/95 a cost benefit analysis determined that the Park was responsible for generating US $ 3 million towards the islands Gross Domestic Product of US $14 million, and continues to play a major role in the sustainable development of the environment, the economy and the social well-being of the islands people. The incomes and expenses of the SMP were itemized and the activities with the greatest benefit/cost ratio calculated to form recommendations for the economic development of the Park.
Visiting divers indicated a preference towards Saba for their diving vacation because of the opportunity to dive in an unspoiled and protected location. A multi-criteria analysis carried out in conjunction with the cost/benefit analysis consolidated local peoples, and visitors opinions of the SMP. These opinions varied , but in general people understood the economic benefits of the Park to the island but stressed that aspects such as communication, education and a wider distribution of benefits from the Marine Park needed developed in the future.