Estimating potential impacts of a change in river quality on the tourism value of Kruger National Park : an application of travel cost, contingent, and conjoint valuation methods

  • J Turpie
  • A Joubert


Development and resource allocation decision processes are increasingly under pressure to take environmental values into account in order to reach optimal economic outcomes. In South Africa new techniques will be needed to incorporate environmental values into environmental impact assessment and in the allocation of water resources under the new National Water Act (1998), both of which require the comparison of alternative scenarios with varying impacts on the environment. This study on the tourism value of rivers in the Crocodile Catchment is the first case study to develop methods for incorporating the economic values of the goods and services provided by functioning aquatic ecosystems into such decision processes. Rivers within the Kruger National Park (KNP) will be affected by water usage in the portions of their catchment areas upstream of the park boundary. The current tourism value of these rivers was considered in terms of revenues to KNP (visitors' on-site expenditure), contribution to the economy (visitors' on-site and off-site expenditure) and recreational value, including consumers' surplus. The effect of a change in river quality was determined using a joint contingent valuation - conjoint valuation approach, whereby respondents rated four different scenarios, each containing four attributes at four different levels. It was estimated that the current value of KNP tourism is about R136 m. in terms of on-site expenditure, R267 m. in terms of economic impact, or all expenditure related to visiting the park, and R1 bn. in terms of consumers' surplus. The latter two values can be added to calculate total recreational value. Four methods were used to isolate the value of rivers from the total tourism value stated above, and all yielded similar values of about 30% of the total.

This implies that about 30% of tourism business would be lost if rivers were totally degraded. Thus, rivers within the Crocodile Catchment, which takes 22% of KNP visitor-nights, contribute R9 m. to KNP revenues and have a total annual recreational use value of about R85 m., including off-site expenditure and consumers' surplus. The conjoint analysis generated an equation which is able to predict the change in trip expenditure, or total KNP revenue, associated with changes in levels of any of the four attributes considered. Appearance of the riverscape has the greatest influence on recreational use value, followed by waterbird diversity, aquatic megafauna and riparian tree density. Such models can be used in water allocation decision processes when attribute levels associated with alternative management scenarios are predicted by aquatic ecologists.

WaterSA Vol.27(3) 2001: 387-398

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eISSN: 0378-4738