What are tourists willing to pay for securing the survival of a flagship species? The case of protection of the Ethiopian wolf

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Abstract

Ecotourism can be an important tool for protecting biodiversity in developing countries. Tourists have preferences for viewing charismatic species and for their conservation, but our understanding of these preferences remains limited. Using choice experiment surveys, we investigate tourists’ preferences and willingness to pay (WTP) for the protection of the Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) in Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains National Park. Results from a random parameter logit model show that tourists were willing to pay up to US$5.82/day/trip for increasing the wolf population from 200 to a more viable number of 250 but very little for a more substantial increase. Tourists also valued increases in the size of the protected area (PA) and access to the wolf habitat. The WTP is found to be dependent on tourists’ prior experience to Ethiopian PAs and whether they had viewed other unique species in the park. The findings suggest opportunities for ecotourism to support the Ethiopian wolf, which is in a critical state, and that the primary motivation for tourists’ support might be due to the wolf’s existence value.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTourism Economics
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Oct 2019

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