Developing a modified Travel Cost Method for the robust estimation of recreational economic value of the protected areas in Bangladesh

By Narayan Saha

Share article
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  


Why do we need Modified Travel Cost Method (MTCM)?

Estimation of recreational economic value of any natural ecosystems helps policy makers in allocating natural resources for conservation of biodiversity through ecotourism. Globally, Travel Cost Method (TCM) is used for estimation of recreational economic value. However, this method is criticized for not always providing robust estimation, especially when applied in a local socio-economic context (Leh et al., 2018; Ward and Beal, 2000; Randall, 1994).

Here I therefore, proposed MTCM, which considered the local socio-economic context of Bangladesh. I applied this MTCM for estimating recreational economic value of the two protected areas in Bangladesh: Lawachara National Park (LNP) and Satchari National Park (SNP).

Study areas

LNP and SNP are two important biodiversity rich tourist sites in Bangladesh, many foreign tourists also visit these national parks. The area of LNP is 1,250 ha. It is located in Moulvibazar District of Sylhet Division. It is approximately 185 km northeast of Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. The area of SNP is 243 ha. It is located in Habiganj District of Sylhet Division.  It is approximately 135 km northeast of Dhaka.

Field surveys

Reconnaissance surveys were conducted by supplementing semi-structure questionnaire prepared through literature acquisitions. The final structure questionnaire was prepared based on the findings of these surveys. Data were collected from randomly selected tourists through interview surveys at the time of their returning back from the park. In case of group visitors, only one or head of the group was selected as a respondent to avoid mainly the repetition of the travel costs.

Data were collected for 18 days, i.e. 9 days in each of the peak and slack season, which included 4 weekends and 5 weekdays. Total 309 visitors (3.10% sampling intensity) in LNP and total 219 visitors (3.26% sampling intensity) in SNP were interviewed.

TCM

Zonal Travel Cost Method (ZTCM) was used to estimate the recreational economic value. The value of recreational uses (V) for each zone can be calculated followed by the simple equation: V={(T x w) + (D x v) + Ca} x Va, where, V= Value of recreational uses; T = Travel time in hour; w = Average wage rate in Tk/hour; D = Distance in km; v = Vehicle operating cost in Tk/km; Ca = Cost of admission to site; Va = Estimated number of visits per year for each zone.

Steps in MTCM

Steps in MTCM are as follows:

  • Step 1: Preliminary activities
    • 1.1. Literature acquisition
    • 1.2. Study area selection
    • 1.3. Semi-structure questionnaire design
    • 1.4. Training of the Research Assistants/Investigators
  • Step 2: Reconnaissance surveys and analysis
    • 2.1. Conduct reconnaissance surveys
    • 2.2. Data sorting and analysis
    • 2.3. Prepare final structure questionnaire
    • 2.4 Final instruction to the Research Assistants/ Investigators
  • Step 3: Final surveys and analysis
    • 3.1. Final data collection
    • 3.2. Data sorting and analysis
  • Step 4: Determination of recreational economic values using TCM/ZTCM and MTCM
    • 4.1. Demographic information relevant for analysis
    • 4.2. Travel Characteristics: Origin of travel; travel cost; travel time; travel distance; means of travel; multi-purposes and multi-destination visits; journey value
    • 4.3. Activity characteristics: Other costs (activity expenses) excluding food value; group/individual visits; activity time. Other costs do not considered the food values, because food is essential commodity, tourists must take it wherever they staying.
  • Step 5: Policy recommendations

Data analysis

Factor 1.79 and factor 1.70 were used for estimating the actual number of visitors/day in LNP and SNP respectively.  Factors were calculated by using the following equation: (actual number of visitors in survey period/number of days surveyed)/observed number of visitors in survey period (Kawsar et al., 2015).

Results and Discussion

Developing MTCM

The value of recreational uses (V) for each zone can be calculated followed by the simple equation: V= [(T x w) + { (D x v) – M – J}+ ∑OC] x Va , where, V= Value of recreational uses; T = Travel time in hour; w = Average wage rate in Tk/hour; D = Distance in km; v = Vehicle operating cost in Tk/km; M = Costs of other sites visits; J = Journey value; ∑OC = Summation of costs of other items in the site (fees for entrance, dormitory/guest house, picnic spot, parking, guide, toilet, tree ride, film shooting); Va = Estimated number of visits per year for each zone.

The proposed components of MTCM in addition to the existing components of the TCM were: a) the amount of vehicle operating cost for visiting other sites in case of multipurpose and multi-destination visits (M), b) the amount of vehicle operating cost for journey value (J) and c) the costs of other items (fees for entrance, dormitory/guest house, picnic spot, parking, guide, toilet, tree ride, film shooting) ∑OC.

Recreational economic valuation

i) Case study in LNP: Number of visitors was strongly related (R2=0.82, P<0.001) with travel distance. The maximum number of tourists came in LNP belongs to group range (21-40 years), literate, and high income and no income groups, for example student, housewife. Around 60% visitors came in peak period and 98% visitors were in group. Reserved and public vehicles were used by 47% and 53% visitors respectively. The main destination of 64% tourist was LNP and 98% tourists came for recreation purpose.

The recreational economic value estimated by MTCM was US$ 6.88 million/year, which was 6.51% less than the value estimated by TCM. This difference is due to the effects of additional variables added to the MTCM.

ii) Case study in SNP: In SNP, travel distance significantly affected the number of visitors (R2=0.56, P<0.05). The maximum number of tourists came in SNP belongs to group range (21-40 years), literate, and high income and no income groups, for example student, housewife. Around 84% visitors came in peak period and all the visitors were in group. Reserved, owned vehicle and public vehicles were used by 70%, 16% and 14% visitors respectively. The main destination of all the tourists was SNP and 97% tourists came for recreation purpose.

The recreational economic value estimated by MTCM was US$ 4.04 million/year, which was 4% more than the value estimated by TCM. This difference is due to the effects of additional variables added to the MTCM.

Conclusions and Recommendations

By incorporating new locally important variables, MTCM can provide more robust estimations in developing countries. Policy makers should take these results into accounts in allocating resources for biodiversity conservation through ecotourism.


References

  • [1] Kawsar, M. H., Pavel, M. A. A., Uddin, M. B., Rahman, S. A.,  Mamun, M. A. A., Hassan, S. B., Alam, M. S.,  Tamrakar, R. Wadud, M. A. (2015) ‘Quantifying Recreational Value and the FunctionalRelationship Between Travel Cost and VisitingNational Park’. International Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 1 (3): 84-89.
  • [2] Leh, F. C., Mokhtar, F. Z., Rameli, N., Ismail, K (2018) Measuring Recreational Value Using Travel Cost Method (TCM): A Number of Issues and Limitations. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 8(10):1381-1396.
  • [3] Randall, A. (1994) Difficulty with the travel cost method. Land Economics 70 (1): 88-96.
  • [4] Ward, F., Beal, D. (2000) Valuing nature with travel cost meodels: a manual. Northampton Edward Elger Publishing, 255p. ISBN 1-84064-078-2.

Narayan Saha is part of the Department of Forestry and Environmental Science (FES), Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), Sylhet-3114, Bangladesh, E-mail: nsaha12010-fes@sust.edu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.