A glimpse of the tiger: how much are Indians willing to pay for it?
This study estimates the recreational demand for the Indian Sundarban, which is a World Heritage site and a complex mangrove ecosystem that borders India and Bangladesh. In 2005-06, the Indian Sunderban received some 64,000 visitors, mainly from Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal. Tourism to the Sunderban is highly seasonal and characterised by few multipoint or foreign visitors. While a majority of the visitors are educated and employed in the service sector, this is a segmented market with high-end and low-end components. Based on the zonal travel cost method, we estimate the annual recreational value of the Indian Sundarban to be approximately INR 15 million (US$ 377,000). The current entry fees to visit the Sunderban are very low and park authorities are able to capture less than 10% of this consumer surplus. To maximize revenues, the current fees of INR 15 can be increased to INR 154 per visitor per day. This would increase total revenues by more than 300%, bringing nearly INR 5 million (US$ 0.12 million) per year to the park. Improved facilities and infrastructure are also likely to boost visitation and revenues.