An Economic Valuation of Coastal Ecosystems in Phang Nga Bay, Thailand
Thailand's Phang Nga Bay is under threat from unregulated tourism and the proposed Southern Seaboard Development Project. The project would involve construction of many infrastructure and industrial projects very close to important and sensitive tourist sites in the Bay. This study assessed the value placed on changes to the Bay's ecosystems by Thais so that these values can be taken into consideration when decisions are made on the expansion of environmentally damaging commercial activities. The population sample was chosen from Thais between ages 18 to 75 years, living in and traveling to Phang Nga Bay area. The study found the annual value of a 35% to 65% increase in environmental quality to be 5,784 million Baht (USD 144.6 million), equivalent to 8% of the gross provincial products of the combined provinces of Phuket, Phang Nga, and Krabi. The study also assessed environmental attitudes and found Thais to be strong advocates of environmental protection. The welfare estimates of improving the Bay's ecosystem showed that diversity of flora and fauna, which provides recreational and tourism benefits, is the most important attribute of the Bay. Local livelihood and ecological functions are equally important attributes while the rare and endangered species attribute is the least important.
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