Ecotourism: Funding conservation programs through entrance fees. The case of the Galapagos National Park
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This study tries to answer the following question: are visitors to national parks willing to pay higher entrance fees if they are told the money collected will be used to increase conservation efforts? In order to address the issue, the Contingent Valuation Methodology (CVM) is used to estimate visitors Willingness to Pay (WTP) entrance fees for conservation programs designed to improve the quality of the Galapagos National Park. Although this study is not the first to apply CVM in the Galapagos National Park, it is the first study to link entrance fees as a vehicle to fund conservation practices and elicit views on the amount visitors would be willing to pay. The following sections include a review of the main economic theory relevant to CV, with special attention to utility function specification, estimators, the type of method used to elicit a response, and the welfare measure associated with the method. Then, the more relevant results of the study conducted in the Galápagos Islands are presented. Finally, some conclusions and recommendations are offered.