Tourists’ Perspectives of Marine Ecosystem Services as the First Stage of Participatory Modeling in the South Coast of Sao Paulo
Although the tourism sector is tightly connected to environmental issues, it is one of the least prepared to deal with changes in environmental conditions, especially with climate changes. Monitoring environmental quality in consolidated coastal destinations becomes fundamental to face the complexity involving marine and coastal ecosystems and tourist afflux. The assessment of stakeholders’ perspective of the benefits these ecosystems provide can be a first step towards the use of modeling approaches to assist coastal planning. As part of a modeling process, this work explores tourists’ perspective of marine ecosystem services, conditions considered in destination choice, and their reaction to changes in seawater quality through a semi structured survey at the municipality of Ubatuba, Sao Paulo, Brazil. The results show that the most perceived ecosystem services are cultural (recreational and aesthetic) and provision (fishery). Also, they identified water quality as the most important aspect of beach selection, which was considered a factor of destination choice. In addition, sewage and solid waste were the most significant factors perceived as responsible for altering seawater quality. The results reinforce the potential of including tourists’ point of view to subsidize the design of socio-ecological modeling approaches.
Keywords: Marine Ecosystem Services; Mental Models; Coastal Planning; Tourism Demand; Brazil.
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