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A contingent valuation approach to estimating the recreational value of commercial whale watching–the case study of Faxaflói Bay, Iceland

There is currently limited knowledge concerning the economic value of commercial whale watching from the perspective of the consumer’s trip experience. This study outlines the results of an in-person contingent valuation survey, which asked whale watching tourists in Faxaflói Bay, Iceland, how much they would have been willing to pay beyond the paid ticket price. Based on a sample of 163 tourists, only 30 (18.40%) reported any consumer surplus, despite the majority stating positive satisfaction with the experience. Mean consumer surplus was 768 ISK (approximately 5.60 euros). Scaled up to the number of whale watching tourists in Faxaflói Bay in 2018 of 148,442, aggregate CS was approximately 114.0 million ISK (0.83 million euros), a 6.9% mark-up on estimated annual revenue generation derived from average ticket prices. The study provides new information on the economic value of whale watching in an area which had already been part-designated as a whale sanctuary.

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