||Protected areas are an important part of our society. They provide ecosystem services
such as climate regulation and water filtration; they secure critical habitat for
wildlife, including many threatened and endangered species; and they also provide
a form of recreation through wildlife viewing, photographing, hiking, and camping.
Eliciting the economic benefits of these protected areas is important to ensure they
are properly considered in policy and decision making. But because no markets for
these services currently exist, protected areas are often undervalued when compared
to alternative land use policies. As lands are put under more pressure from population
and economic growth, it is critical that the benefits derived from protected areas
are fully understood. Therefore, non-market valuation techniques have been developed
to estimate these benefits. Relatively few environmental valuation studies, however,
have been conducted in developing countries to date. Here, I apply one such valuation
method, the travel cost method (TCM) to estimate the recreational benefits of Tanzania’s
protected areas to East African citizens. Data were collected from visitors through
an on-site intercept survey in Arusha National Park (ANP) during the summer of 2012
. The recreational value, or consumer surplus, of ANP was found to be $13.28 - $37.
88 per person per day spent in the park. One-half of all visitors to ANP are East
African citizens, representing an annual recreational value potential of $0.9 - $2.7
million. Recognizing that this is only one of many parks in Tanzania, this study shows
that National Parks provide a significant source of revenue and social utility. The
results of this study will better inform government officials making decisions about
economic development and environmental protection in Tanzania.