This study investigates the economic value of Hawassa Amora-Gedel recreational park and determines the factors that affect the public’s willingness to pay for the quality improvement of the recreational park. A contingent valuation method was applied to measure public willingness to pay (WTP) for the quality improved recreational park. Based on random sampling technique, 390 visitors were selected to determine people’s preferences on the park improvement. The Heckman selection model was used to analyze the factors affecting people’s participation in the park improvement and the valuation of the quality improved recreational park. The analysis of the determinants of WTP shows that education, duration of the park users in the watershed, income, urban residents and multiple uses of the recreational park influence the park improvement positively. The valuation of the recreational park in terms of entrance fee shows that visitors are willing to pay Birr 25.77 (US$1.43) per person when the quality of the recreational park is improved, which is five times higher than the current charge for a single visitor on the status quo.
Key words: Contingent valuation method, Heckman selection model, recreational park, willingness to pay.
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