Journal of Ocean and Coastal Economics

Document Type

Research Article


Each year, millions of Americans visit beaches for recreation, resulting in significant social welfare benefits and economic activity. Considering the high use of coastal beaches for recreation, closures due to bacterial contamination have the potential to greatly impact coastal visitors and communities. We used readily-available information to develop two transferable models that, together, provide estimates for the value of a beach day as well as the lost value due to a beach closure. We modeled visitation for beaches in Barnstable, Massachusetts on Cape Cod through panel regressions to predict visitation by type of day, for the season, and for lost visits when a closure was posted. We used a meta-analysis of existing studies conducted throughout the United States to estimate a consumer surplus value of a beach visit of around $22 for our study area, accounting for water quality at beaches by using past closure history. We applied this value through a benefit transfer to estimate the value of a beach day, and combined it with lost town revenue from parking to estimate losses in the event of a closure. The results indicate a high value for beaches as a public resource and show significant losses to the town when beaches are closed due to an exceedance in bacterial concentrations.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.