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Wetlands are crucial
ecosystem that offers benefits to all mankind. It provides several goods and
services to local and international individuals. Despite its benefits to
society, it has suffered ecological damages and environmental degradation in
most developing countries. As tourism is growing rapidly, developing and other
eastern countries with high levels of biodiversity faces great challenges. This
is because many wetlands organizations generate limited funds to facilitate
correctly to the demand of tourism and wetland conservation. In Malaysia for
example, over 39% of forest was cleared for timber harvesting, while about 47%
of the land was used up for agricultural activities. The major threat to the sustenance
of wetlands in developing countries includes; human settlement, use of land for
house construction, recreational activities, and tourism. Moreover, the growth of human population has
increased the need for shelter which have led to agricultural development and
land expansion.

To this effect,
numerous measures have been taken to mitigate further wetlands damages. These
measures include the establishment of national parks around wetlands locations.
National Park can be beneficial in many ways. It has many functions connecting
to the ecological functions (Gascon et al. 2015). The recreational
resources are beneficial to everyone who visits. As ecotourism sites, it can
generate national income, and enhance economic impacts to social welfare.
Although, the tourism development can generate some benefits to the economy, it
can also negatively affect the natural environment. Some of the advantages of
tourism development is that it creates jobs and income. On the contrary,
research has proven that most tourism development around wetlands has led to
further reduction of wetlands resources under conditions of high visitation to
the national park (Akbar, Puad, and Som, 2010). For example, in
2008 a number of 9,645 visitors were recorded in the national park Malaysia,
which has increased to 88,591 visitors in 2012, as shown in table 5 below. A
policy that could be implemented to avoid further wetlands degradation is for
national park managements to introduce pricing strategy by getting revenues
from visitors through entrance fees (Nuva et al., 2009). As entrance fee
could generate efficient outcome (Nuva et al., 2009), it
can also internalize the externalities resulting from high visitation in areas
that suffer from congestion and accompanying environmental damage.

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However, to figure
out the pricing strategy, the call for economic analysis is needed to estimate
the economic value associated with wetlands. Examining the willingness to pay
(WTP) is a suitable tool in determining the entrance fee that will be suitable for
different class of visitors (Barnes, Schier, and Van Rooy, 1999). This paper is
structured as follows: Measuring the economic values that visitors placed for
conservation of ecotourism sites in Malaysia. Section two is the literature
review that emphases on contingent valuation method (CVM) in determining the
amount visitors were WTP. Methodology and sources of the data are explained in
section three. Section four presented the results, and section five conclude.

Literature review

Many ecosystem
service benefits mankind either directly or indirectly to markets, but the
complete environmental cost of providing these services is not ascertain in the
market price signals. Therefore, the benefits and costs of these environmental
resources are difficult to determine. If an ecosystem services is regarded as
‘free’, there will be no incentive to value its use, and as a result,
undervaluing what people are willing and able to give up for the preservation
of the environment (Kim, Wong, and Cho, 2007). Hence, using of the
economic valuation process in finding willingness to pay (WTP) value could
solve the problems (Mombo et al., 2014). Due to the public
attributes, a non-market economic valuation method was required to determine
their non-use values. This method can help to predict the effect of economic
decision and activities, and also to identify and measure the monetary value of
the economic benefits that a society attain from environmental resources (Cameron, 1988). This approach in valuing the willingness to pay
is based on people’s preferences for changes and improvement of the ecosystem
(Suziana Hassan, 2017). According to Lipton et al. (1995), the term value in economic is a
measure of the optimal price individuals are willing to forego in order to
obtain some good or service.

However, method such
as willingness to pay is often used to measure the opinion of visitors and
their views towards potentially paying for ecosystem services (Nuva et al., 2009). Their willingness to pay is important. For
example, revenue generated from visitor`s entrance fee can improve the
efficiency in management, as well as conservation effectiveness (Tao, Yan, and Zhan, 2012). In many ecotourism
sites in developing countries, the charging fees are often less than what
visitors are willing to offer (Akbar, Puad, and Som, 2010). Previous
willingness to pay studies on ecotourism proved that visitors were willing to
pay the established entrance fee (Akbar, Puad, and Som, 2010).

Past studies have
used economic approach to measure WTP.  Arin and Kramer (2002)
used contingent valuation method (CVM) to examine tourist’s behavior and
perception. He noted that the implementation of entrance fee to visitors is a
key determinant to finance marine reserves. This is because, the realized revenues
would help in the overall maintenance of the reserve. Kim et al. (2004) also
employed the CVM in “assessing the economic value of a world heritage site and
willingness-to-pay determinants at Changdeok Palace”, in South Korea. Other studies that employed CVM to value respondents`
WTP includes those of Hanemann
(1984), who stated that open-ended
questionnaires facilitate respondent to give accurate answers without duress,
and thus, eliminate any form of hypothetical bias. 

it is imperative to state that past studies on the willingness to pay
categorized non-market valuation
methods into two segments: revealed preference and stated preference methods (Tietenberg, 2016). These methods are
represented in table 1 below. The travel cost method (TCM) and the hedonic
pricing method (HPM), has been mainly applied to the actual market valuation.
On the other hand, stated preference valuation
comprises of techniques which use respondents’ statements about their
preferences to assess change in utility connected with a proposed increase in
quality or quantity of an ecosystem service (Tintenberg, 2016). The two most
common forms of stated preference methods are contingent valuation (CVM) and discrete
choice experiments (DCE).

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