Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture, Food and Environment

Department

Agricultural Economics

First Advisor

Dr. Wuyang Hu

Abstract

Hawaii’s pristine ocean and tropical environment is a keystone of Hawaii tourism and the state economy. Water pollution from stormwater and development threatens the beach quality to both residents and tourists. In order to understand the lost nonmarket value, we assess changes in quality of beach characteristics including water and sand quality, swimming safety conditions, and congestion using a Discrete Choice Experiment of recreational beach users. Further, we study willingness to pay (WTP) for water management strategies in Hawaii using another discrete choice experiment, including structural and nonstructural Best Management Practices, testing, monitoring, and educational efforts.

Using a mixed logit model, beach quality results suggest similar preferences among resident and tourists. Both groups consistently have higher WTP to avoid poor quality levels versus obtaining excellent levels. Additionally, water quality is the single most important attribute. For the policy discrete choice experiment, both parties exhibit similar ranking of WTP to initiate water quality management strategies, with improved testing methods followed by education having the highest WTP. Lastly, we use Benefit-Cost analysis to find that all significant management strategies may be viable, since WTP is greater than the predicted cost of implementation based on expert opinion of Hawaiian policy leaders.

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