Economic Valuation of Natural Promenades by Using Zonal Travel Cost Method (Case Study: Dimeh Fountain of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province)



Extended Abstract

According to daily increasing request of people for promenades and recreational centers, social and economic analysis and full review of people requirements is a key factor in providing required facilities. There are various methods for recreational valuation such as Travel Cost Method (TCM) and Contingent Valuation Method (CVM). Between these two, TCM is adequate to evaluate nonuse values of fountain.

TCM method was used for recreational evaluation of Dimeh fountain in this study. Generally speaking, TCM method includes 7 steps: 1st step: producing map for determining the situation of regarded region; 2nd step: determining concentric circles around the region with various radius but by constant distance; 3rd step: calculating ratio of visit to 10000 people in each circle (VR); 4th step: getting distance, cost average and the time of two way trip for each restricted circle; 5th step: modeling or determining relation between distance, travel cost and the number of visitors to promenade, so researchers could estimate the request function for average visitors; 6th step: calculating request function by using the estimated relation for promenade; 7th step: calculating area under request curve to determine economic value of promenade; and finally 8th step: case-study investigation of some features of visitors like literacy level, age, sex, education level, amount of income, etc. As mentioned before, Clawson travel cost method has been used here. It could be summarized in the functional model as follows:

Vij/Ni=F (TCij, Sij, Ajk) (1)

In which Vij number of visitors of the region (i) that visit from promenade (j), Ni total number population of the region (i), TCij cost of accessing to promenade (j) from the region (i), Sij socio-economic characteristics of visitors of the region (i) that visit from promenade (j), Aij attractiveness and aesthetics characteristics of promenade (j) compared with other ones (k). In this model, ratio of visit to 10000 people in each region (VR) considered as a dependent variable and average travel cost and three socio-economic variables (Age, Education and Income level) considered as independent variables. By putting mean amounts of age, education and monthly income variables simplified formation of equation could be concluded.
In economic analysis of promenade, relation between mean cost and number of visitors shows visitor attribute to cost changes therefore to know visitor’s behavior against paying at entrance they gave various hypothetical opportunity to them in questionnaires, then they increased payments to average cost of accessing to fountain and put new costs in a simplified model and calculated new ratio of visitors for new costs to 10000 people. At the end, by measuring under area of request function from new ratio of visitors and by using model No. 2 daily recreational value of fountain was estimated:

(2) In which V is the economic value of the promenade, N is the number of visitors and AP is the hypothetical entrance price.

Results and Discussion
Results showed that variables like age, education and amount of visitor’s income had significant impacts on use of promenades. Investigation of relation between monthly income levels with number of days which people go to picnic showed that correlation coefficient between these two variables is 0.72 which explains high dependence of number of picnic days to their monthly income. Calculating correlation coefficient between monthly income level and their interest to pay the entrance fee (0.58) showed correlation too. Investigation of relation between travel cost and number of visitors showed that high correlation between these two variables is – 0.79 which explains decrease in number of visitors as travel costs increases. Results also showed that the number of visitors decreases while distance from fountain increases. Relation between these two variables showed that the correlation amount is – 0.84. The results were not unexpected at all; there were similar results from parks in United States. It also showed that level of education has a key role in absorbing visitors for Dimeh fountain as most of the visitors had university education. Level of advantage has direct relation with income, as relief times of people would increase by increasing level of education. Investigation of studying in some promenades of the country showed that there are more interest among teenagers and middle ages but our results showed that most of the visitors (24%) were in the range of 30-34 ages.
As mentioned above, the recreational value of fountain calculates based on request function.
Regression equation is:
VR=exp (-0.00024TC+0.059E+0.3062A+0.00000465I-19.062) (3)

In which VR is ratio of number of visitors in every 10000 persons to population of home region, TC is travel cost, E is educational level, A is age, and I is the amount of monthly income. By putting mean amounts of age, education and monthly income variables simplified formation of equation (3) will transform into equation (4):

VR=exp (-0.00024TC-4.7335) (4)

By considering equation (2) under area request curve of fountain which is the same daily recreational value, is 723852000 Iranian Rials.
High daily recreational value of Dimeh fountain which was recorded in the summer of 2008 is comparable to the two studies about Anzali wetland (2006) and Taleghani forest park (2007). Estimated values are about 720, 120 and 420 million Iranian Rials respectively for these three promenades. Even by the inflation in time space of these studies, results showed that Dimeh fountain needs more attention and legislation design for tourism industry.

This research was conducted to estimate the nonuse values of natural attractions using T.C.M. The findings indicate that the estimated economic value provides enough justification for authorities to increase admission fees in order to maintain the quality of the natural environment, and thereby avoid the degradation of natural attractions. The findings also indicate that fountains provide considerable nonuse values for citizens.