UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Ted Gilliland, University of California, Davis

Is Tourism a "Win-win" for Conservation and Poverty Reduction? A Bioeconomic General Equilibrium Perspective

Date and Location

Monday, December 5, 2016, 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM
ARE Library Conference Room, 4101 Social Sciences and Humanities


Protecting degraded open-access natural resources while maintaining or improving the livelihoods of the poor is a major challenge in developing countries. Tourism is frequently promoted as a win-win solution that can shift natural resource users away from resource extraction and reduce poverty for local households. However, existing economy-wide economic analyses of tourism's impacts do not model the natural resource stock itself. We combine a local economy-wide model, a bioeconomic model and a novel data set to show that tourism expansion does not present a clear win-win for conservation and development. We find that for an artisanal fishery in the western Philippines, the tradeoffs faced by advocates of tourism depend on access to trade and the response of fish biomass levels to new harvesting pressures. When fish cannot be traded with outside regions, local demand for fish stimulates higher fishing pressure and a decline in the fish stock. All households experience gains in real incomes, though richer nonfishing households benefit the most. However, as the fish stock declines over time, income gains diminish, particularly for fishing households. If fish can be traded with outside regions, tourism expansion results in a small recovery of the fish stock, but effects on real incomes vary across socioeconomic groups. Non-fishing households experience real income gains (especially richer households), but fishing households are generally worse off. The recovery in the fish stock helps ameliorate these losses, though only slightly. The results highlight how this modeling framework can help policymakers navigate the economic and ecological linkages that determine tourism's impacts on poverty and the environment in developing countries.

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