April 25, 2018

“Study: Marine protected areas generate $67.8 mil. in visitor spend “

News Source: The Nassau Guardian

Author(s): Chester Robards

A study has found that the well-known Bonefish Pond National Park at the southern shore of New Providence is one of a number of marine protected areas that generates 383,000 annual visitor days, which translates into about $67.8 million spent throughout those days.

The “Economic Valuation of Ecosystem Services in Bahamian Marine Protected Areas” report reveals that Bonefish Pond National Park attracts some 1,100 annual visitor days and accounts for about $1 million of the country’s calculated visitor spend.

The study was compiled by Bahamas Protected, a three-year collaborative initiative between The Nature Conservancy, the Bahamas National Trust and the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF). The aim of the partnership is to “manage and expand marine protected areas in the country in an effort to safeguard the economic value of marine ecosystems”.

The report further noted that Bonefish Pond National Park helps to protect some 30,416 New Providence residents from the effects of erosion and flooding, which equates to the protection of $718 million worth of assets.

“These areas attract more tourists to our shores and in turn increase the amount of money tourists spend in our country,” said Lakeshia Anderson, BNT director of parks.

Conservation planner at the Bahamas National Trust Lashanti Jupp added: “This illustrates how important investment in the infrastructure and access to these areas will help support the country’s touristic product. This investment can open the proverbial floodgates for tourists looking for a nature-based experience that can be found only in The Bahamas.”

With the inflow of tourists to marine protected areas come opportunities for businessmen, and according to the report, several are turning to tours to capture economic opportunities.

“We have a lot of tourists and locals who come here to kayak,” said Frederick Tucker, from Ultimate Tours Bahamas.

“Most people are wowed by the tour because they know very little about the importance of the mangroves in The Bahamas.”