Travel cost

The travel cost valuation method is a tool to estimate the attractiveness of sites used for recreation and other purposes. A site attractiveness is estimated upon the time, distance and costs associated with the travel.

The target group: Based on inputs from GI visitors, the tool is informing regional stakeholders to enable them to make better informed decisions on GI.

Scale level and phase to be applied

The application in the planning process
The travel cost economic valuation method:
  • raised the awareness and understanding of existing and potential recreational value from the GI.
  • estimated the value of the non-existent price of recreational experience as well as GI use.
  • expressed the attractiveness of a site based on the opportunity cost of time (time spent on-site) and total expenses incurred to visit.
  • provided useful information for decision-makers such as the flow of visitors within the GI and the travel distance that visitors are willing to make in order to access the site.
 As an example, within the Hoo Peninsula case study, the average travel cost for a single visit was 24,43£. This is based on the distance travelled, mode of transportation and time spent on site. Complementary, it also provides comparative insights on the two main visited areas of the case study. For instance, visitors travelled 17.5 miles to get to Northward Hill, spending in average 2 hours and 12 minutes on site. While for the Isle of grain, visitors travelled on average 31.4 miles to reach the area and spent in average 1 hour and 31 minutes within the area.

 Contact persons

This tool was applied in the following case study:

More information
The travel cost is a widely use method in environmental economics initially developed by Clawson (1959) to estimate the value and demand for outdoor recreation. The travel cost valuation method was conducted by the SEGEFA from the University of Liège and partially framed by The Mersey Forest calculation toolkit (tool 6.2). In particular, the toolkit calculation was used to (1) elicit the GI catchment area, (2) estimate visitors’ frequency increase after a GI improvement, and (3) assess health benefits of physical exercise. The travel cost uses reveal preferences, thus data collected from the face-to-face questionnaires (tool 3.6) When primary data were not sufficient, the calculations were complemented by secondary data (from regional and national official statistics), and from figures suggested by the calculation toolkit (benefit transfer analysis).

TMF calculation toolkit:

CLAWSON M., 1959, Methods of Measuring the Demand for and Value of Outdoor Recreation,vReprint N°10, Washington DC, Ressources for the Future, Inc.