The recreation use value of NSW marine parks

In 2007, the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change, on behalf of the Marine Parks Authority, commissioned Gillespie Economics to undertake a travel cost study of four marine parks.

The study used survey data to estimate the economic value of recreation for visitors to marine parks at Batemans Bay, Cape Byron, Jervis Bay and Solitary Islands.

The value of recreation was estimated in terms of visitors' 'consumer surplus' (the amount visitors were willing to pay for recreation above what they actually did pay). These values were estimated using the zonal travel cost method, which assumes that a marine park will attract more visitors from close-by areas, relative to similar-sized areas further away from the park (where travel costs are higher).

Summary of findings

The study estimated the average value of a recreational visit and the total value of recreation for all visitors to each marine park (see below). The study estimated that individual visitors receive an economic benefit ranging from between $16 to $50 per visit (ignoring the cost of travel time), and between $31 and $62 per visit (when including the cost of travel time). The total economic benefit from recreation at all four marine parks was estimated at between $5.1 million and $7.3 million per annum.

Economic value of visits to Marine Park areas

Protected area

Consumer surplus per visit (excl. time)

Consumer surplus per visit (incl. time)

Annual recreation values (low)

Annual recreation values (high)

Batemans Bay Marine Park





Cape Byron Marine Park





Jervis Bay Marine Park





Solitary Islands Marine Park