Date of Award


Level of Access

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Ecology and Environmental Sciences


Deirdre Mageean

Second Committee Member

Kevin J. Boyle

Third Committee Member

Mario Teisl


Paracas National Reserve (PNR) is one of the fifty-seven protected areas that belong to the National System of Protected Areas (SINANPE) of Peru. Located in Ica Department, on the Pacific coast of Peru, it is the only coastal-marine ecosystem currently protected by the Peruvian government. PNR has been internationally recognized, principally as a wintering area for bird migrations. It has been designated as a Regional Shorebird Reserve by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (1991), a Ramsar site by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat (1992), and a Particular Sensitive Sea Area by the International Marine Organization (2003). In addition, its scenic beauty and the ninety-five archaeological sites attributed to the Nazca culture located inside its boundaries are main attractions of the protected area (GTZ, 1999, and INRENA, 2003a). Currently, PNR is the third most visited protected area of Peru and receives around one hundred thousand national and foreign tourists per year (INRENA, 2002). The agency in charge of the management of SINANPE (INRENA) charges a flat fee to enter the protected areas that have local administration and defined tourism zones. This flat fee has been established without economic evaluations and does not take into consideration the specific protected areas visitors' willingness and ability to pay. Some exceptions to the flat fee have been implemented in selected protected areas, but not in PNR. The revenues collected are directed to a central fund, which distributes the money back to the protected area local administration. The goal interest of this research is to provide an evaluation of possible fee policies for PNR by addressing a series of questions namely: does the current fee correspond to the tourists' willingness to pay (WTP) at PNR's present conditions? If INRENA decides to improve the infrastructure and services inside PNR through changes in the fee, what are the protected area's attributes that enhance the tourists' recreation experience, or the attributes that the users appreciate the most?, and what would be the visitors' marginal WTP for each of them? In addition, what would be the potential impact of changing the fee in the different income groups? Finally, what would be the fair fees for PNR, considering the potential revenues and the effects of the fees in the different types of tourists who visit the protected area (national local tourists, national non local tourists, foreign tourists, wildlife recreation and beach recreation tourists)? In this thesis, contingent behavior (CB) and conjoint analysis (CA) models were used to answer the policy-related questions indicated above. The data for the models were collected from a survey conducted on site and off site PNR in August 2003. The results indicate that the mean WTP were S1.10.8 (wildlife recreation), 9.5 (national local), 8.6 (national non local), 7.9 (beach recreation), and 23.9 (foreign tourists). The mean marginal willingness to pay for potential infrastructure and service improvements in PNR are between Sl.6.2 and 10.0 for availability of interpretative signs at landscape and wildlife point of interests, Sf. 5.6 and 17.5 for implementation of monitoring activities of endangered endemic species, and S1.5.1 and 13.6 for availability of operative and well-maintained rustic toilets (the former amounts correspond to national tourists and the latter to foreign tourists). The analysis of the impact of fees on different income groups for national tourists, divided according to Peruvian socio-economic classes, suggests that PNR is an inferior good for lower income non local tourists. Local tourists do not present different preferences in WTP according to socio-economic classes. Thus, in the case of an increase in the fee, there is not statistical evidence that lower income national tourists would be affected by a larger proportion than higher income national tourists. The hypothetical demand curves constructed from the probability of rejection curves for national tourists are highly elastic; therefore, increases in fee could cause elevated drops in the number of national tourists who visit the protected area. This is not the case for foreign tourists. Fee option evaluations that included profit maximization with and without price differentiation suggest that fair fee policies need to consider the implementation of differential fees for national and foreign tourists and the establishment of fees that would not significantly reduce the number of future tourists to the protected area.