Liam CARR, National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland
Beach-dune systems worldwide offer a diverse array of services to coastal communities and economies, including outdoor recreation opportunities that provide important welfare benefits. Based in the Maharees in Co. Kerry’s Dingle Peninsula, this work represents the first Irish study to value recreational visits to beaches and coastal dunes by applying a negative binomial individual travel cost model. Data was gathered through on- and off-site surveys in the Maharees and Castlegregory communities during summer 2019 with 246 questionnaire responses collected. Regression analysis indicated that total travel costs, staying overnight, visiting the Maharees from neighbouring counties, and pursuing marine-based recreation were positively associated with the number of beach-dune visits undertaken during a trip to the Maharees. Conversely, identifying substitute Irish destinations to the Maharees exerted a negative effect upon the number of beach-dune visits. A consumer surplus of €3.09 per person per beach visit was estimated, which compares favourably with estimates for Mediterranean destinations, yet ranks below figures for international beach sites in Australia and the USA. From 31 substitute Irish destinations mentioned in survey responses only Achill Island matched all the key natural environment amenities of the Maharees, highlighting the uniqueness of the study location and its relatively irreplaceable socio-economic value.
Keywords: Travel Cost Method |Recreation|Social-Ecological Systems,|Beach-Dune Systems|Coastal Ireland