A new study finds that Europeans spend more than 700 billion pounds (800 billion euros) annually on recreational visits to water bodies – but the perceived decline in water quality costs around 90 billion pounds (100 billion euros) in lost visits.
The new research – led by a European collaboration that includes the University of Exeter and the University of Stirling – used data from 11,000 visits in 14 different countries to analyze the economic value of water bodies, such as rivers, lakes, waterfalls, beaches and coastal parks. .
The research team estimated that people spend an average of £ 35 (€ 40) to travel to and from these locations, with a typical family making 45 such trips each year.
The team also found that people were less likely to visit sites if the perceived water quality declined, at a cost of more than € 100 billion annually. The results highlight the importance of maintaining and improving bathing water quality standards.
Posted in Macro ecology, The team calculates that across Europe, total spending related to trips to water-based venues exceeds £ 700 billion per year.
Professor Tobias Burger, from the Berlin School of Economics and Law, used the data collected as part of the EU-funded BlueHealth project, which included more than 18,000 people on their use of water bodies and their health and well-being. He explained: “The COVID-19 crisis has taught us how important access to natural green and blue spaces is for people’s mental health and well-being. Our research highlights that it is also critical for the economy to maintain high levels of water quality, as the pandemic crisis begins to recede. ”
According to directives adopted by the European Commission, across EU member states, more than 15,000 coastal sites and nearly 7,000 inland bathing water sites must now display signs indicating water quality over the past four years. About 95 percent of the sites meet minimum quality standards and are considered safe to shower, while 85 percent are rated as having excellent water quality.
Professor Danny Campbell, of the University of Stirling, who is a co-author of the study, added: “While the study reveals that changes in water quality are important to people, we found that household income and educational attainment have nothing to do with visiting water bodies. The benefits of such visits are indeed in terms of entertainment, health and well-being. “
The results fit well with a growing body of work investigating people’s experiences in inland and coastal waters and health across Europe. “Blue spaces benefit people in many ways,” said study co-author Dr. Matthew White of the University of Exeter. They encourage physical activity, help de-stress and relax, and are important places to spend quality time with family and friends, and all the things that help people have mental health. “This research found that good water quality is the key in encouraging people to take advantage of these benefits.”
The team hopes their study will help planners and organizers justify the costs of building and maintaining the infrastructure needed to keep the quality of shower water high.
magazine: Macro Ecology
Title: The Recreation Value of Blue Space and the Perceived Water Quality Across Europe: An Emergent Behavior Study
Authors: Tobias Börgera, b *, Danny Campbellb, Mathew P. Whitec, d, Lewis R. Elliottd, Lora E. Flemingd, Joanne K. Garrett d, Caroline Hattame, Stephen Hynesf, Tuija Lankiag, Tim Taylord
Department of Business and Economics, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Germany
(B) The Applied Choice Research Group, University of Stirling School of Management, United Kingdom
Cognitive Science Center, University of Vienna, Austria
(D) European Center for the Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter College of Medicine, United Kingdom
The ICF, Plymouth, UK
(F) Socio-Economic Maritime Research Unit, Whitaker Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
Finland Natural Resources Institute (LUKE), Finland