, Volume 42, Issue 8, pp 975–984 | Cite as

Financing Marine Protected Areas Through Visitor Fees: Insights from Tourists Willingness to Pay in Chile

  • Stefan Gelcich
  • Francisca Amar
  • Abel Valdebenito
  • Juan Carlos Castilla
  • Miriam Fernandez
  • Cecilia Godoy
  • Duan Biggs


Tourism is a financing mechanism considered by many donor-funded marine conservation initiatives. Here we assess the potential role of visitor entry fees, in generating the necessary revenue to manage a marine protected area (MPA), established through a Global Environmental Facility Grant, in a temperate region of Chile. We assess tourists’ willingness to pay (WTP) for an entry fee associated to management and protection of the MPA. Results show 97 % of respondents were willing to pay an entrance fee. WTP predictors included the type of tourist, tourists’ sensitivity to crowding, education, and understanding of ecological benefits of the MPA. Nature-based tourists state median WTP values of US$ 4.38 and Sun-sea-sand tourists US$ 3.77. Overall, entry fees could account for 10–13 % of MPA running costs. In Chile, where funding for conservation runs among the weakest in the world, visitor entry fees are no panacea in the short term and other mechanisms, including direct state/government support, should be considered.


Consumer surplus Social–ecological systems Nature-based tourism Human dimensions Contingent valuation MPA Aichi targets Conservation 



We acknowledge the financial support of the BBVA Foundation Project MAPUCHE, Fondecyt Grant #1120103 and Centro de Conservación Marina Iniciativa Cientifica Milenio of the Ministerio de Economia, Fomento y Turismo. We specially thank local fishers, tourists and stakeholders from Bahía Mansa and the Lafken Mapu Lahual area, specifically inhabitants of Maicolpue and Pucatrihue. We sincerely thank A. Hinostroza (tourism coordinator at Mapu Lahual), for logistical help while developing surveys and K. Crossley for reading earlier versions of the ms. We thank R. Arriagada for insightful discussions. We are grateful of two anonymous reviewers, thanks to whom the paper improved substantially.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 91 kb)


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Gelcich
    • 1
    • 2
  • Francisca Amar
    • 1
    • 2
  • Abel Valdebenito
    • 3
  • Juan Carlos Castilla
    • 1
    • 2
  • Miriam Fernandez
    • 1
    • 2
  • Cecilia Godoy
    • 4
  • Duan Biggs
    • 5
  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias BiológicasPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  2. 2.Centro de Conservación Marina & Laboratorio Internacional en Cambio Global (LINCGlobal), Facultad de Ciencias BiológicasPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  3. 3.Departamento de EstadísticaPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  4. 4.Fundacion BiomarPuerto VarasChile
  5. 5.ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, Centre for Biodiversity & Conservation ScienceUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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