Pricing Beach Congestion: An analysis of the introduction of an access fee to the protected island of Lobos (Canary Islands)

Francisco López-del-Pino, José M. Grisolía

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


There is a growing need for instruments to control and reduce the impacts of the increasing number of tourists visiting protected natural areas. Among these economic instruments, the use of access fees can have positive effects on enhancing environmental sustainability by reducing the number of visitors. Access fees are also a source of financing the management costs of a protected area. Among the negative impacts of tourism, users of beaches perceive congestion as a factor in reducing the final value of the touristic experience. This article analyses the perception of locals of an access fee to enter the small Canary island of Lobos, a protected natural area with high quality beaches, whose quietness is endangered by an increasing number of visitors, clearly exceeding the current carrying capacity. We approached the problem using different tools: firstly, we looked at visitors’ opinions on the website TripAdvisor to identify whether congestion is perceived as a problem; secondly, we carried out an opinion survey using Likert-type scale questions to capture opinions about crowding and pricing; and finally, we used a discrete choice experiment to estimate the willingness to pay (WTP) for accessing the island and reducing congestion. The results reveal a high degree of perception of congestion and the potential of an entrance fee as an effective tool in reducing that congestion and thus generating resources to cover the maintenance costs of the protected area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-472
Number of pages24
JournalTourism Economics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Likert-type scale
  • access fees
  • congestion
  • discrete choice model
  • natural protected areas
  • sustainability
  • willingness to pay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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