What Values Do Tourists Place on a Marine Protected Area? White Shark Cage-Dive Tourists and the Neptune Islands
Management of protected areas is as much about understanding how society values these resources as it is about understanding ecological processes. Yet, in comparison to standard ecosystem monitoring and economic evaluation, social values are frequently overlooked because of the challenge to measure and define them. As marine protected areas are currently the fastest growing protected area type, this article argues the need to incorporate social value assessment in planning and policy decisions to improve ecological and social outcomes. This study surveyed 675 white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) cage-dive participants to investigate how tourists' value the Neptune Islands group (Ron and Valerie Taylor) Marine Park. Applying a value typology previously used in forests, respondents were able to identify with 13 distinct values. Results demonstrate that tourists hold biocentric, indirect use, and nonconsumptive values of the marine park as most important. The relevance of these results as an indicator of tourists' preference for management decisions is discussed.