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DID THE GREAT RECESSION REDUCE VISITOR SPENDING AND WILLINGNESS TO PAY FOR NATURE-BASED RECREATION? EVIDENCE FROM 2006 AND 2009

Authors

  • JOHN LOOMIS,

    1. Loomis: Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1172. Phone 970-491-2485, Fax 970-491-2067, E-mail John.Loomis@colostate.edu
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  • CATHERINE KESKE

    1. Keske: Assistant Professor, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1170. Phone 970-491-7346, Fax 970-491-0564, E-mail Catherine.Keske@colostate.edu
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    • We would like to thank the Colorado Fourteener Initiative and the Mosquito Range Heritage Initiative for assistance in data collection. This paper benefited from suggestions provided by three anonymous referees. Any remaining errors are the responsibility of the authors. This research project was funded by USDA-NRI Grant #2008-02698. Partial funding for this study came from the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station project W2133.


Abstract

Outdoor recreation is a large industry that can diversify public land-based economies that have traditionally relied upon resource extraction. However, what happens to nature-based recreation visitor spending and benefits during times of national economic recession? To address this question, we replicate a 2006 high mountain recreation study in the same region 3 years later during the 2009 recession. Results indicate that nature-based public land recreation in this area did not experience reductions in most categories of visitor spending or total number of visits during the recession. These results imply that nature-based recreation may represent an economically stable industry in public land mountain economies. Total benefits to the visitors are also quite stable, only dropping from $129 per person per trip in 2006 to $120 in 2009. This 7% drop in willingness to pay is not statistically significant at conventional levels. (JEL Q26)

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