Visitors’ perceptions on the management of an important nesting site for loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta L.): the case of Rethymno coastal area in Greece

Jones, Nikoleta; Panagiotidou, Kalliopi; Spilanis, Ioannis; Evangelinos, Konstantinos I. and Dimitrakopoulos, Panayiotis G. (2011). Visitors’ perceptions on the management of an important nesting site for loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta L.): the case of Rethymno coastal area in Greece. Ocean & Coastal Management, 54(8) pp. 577–584.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2011.05.001

Abstract

Tourism has important impacts, both positive and negative, on the management of coastal areas with high biodiversity value. It is therefore important to investigate visitors’ perceptions concerning environmental policy alternatives for these areas along with the factors influencing these perceptions. The present paper aims to investigate visitors’ perceptions of an important nesting ground for loggerhead sea turtles located in a highly touristic area of Greece (Rethymno, Crete) registered in the Natura 2000 network. The paper focuses on the level of environmental awareness of visitors and their perceptions of two proposed policy instruments which will secure funding for the improvement of the environmental management of the area: an entrance fee to the beach and a tax to be levied on local accommodation costs. The influence of social and institutional trust on these perceptions is also explored. According to the results of the study, awareness of the existence of the Natura 2000 site was low. Furthermore, the accommodation tax was regarded as a more effective policy when compared to the entrance fee. Average Willingness to Pay (WTP) was also explored for the two policies, estimated at €1.13 for the daily accommodation tax and €1.59 for the entrance fee. The influence of social and institutional trust had a significant influence both on the perceived level of effectiveness of the proposed policies and the stated Willingness to Pay. The study concludes that the accommodation tax would be a more appropriate policy for the management of Rethymno beach taking into consideration visitors’ perceptions and the current level of trust.

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