A number of studies valuing recreation have shown that the travel cost method (TCM) generates higher estimates of value than the contingent valuation method (CVM), even though the latter is commonly associated with potential problems of hypothetical and strategic bias. In this study, both methods have been used to estimate the recreational values associated with the Coorong on the Murray River in south-eastern Australia. Values per adult visitor per recreation day are estimated with the TCM at $149 and with the CVM at $116. A number of methodological and framing issues to explain these value differences are tested. In summary, while no single methodological or framing issue could be identified that would reconcile the difference between TCM and CVM values, it appears likely that there may be a combination of factors that drive the systematic variations in consumer surplus values. The evidence in this study suggests that the most important of these are likely to be the different decision points underpinning data collection and the consideration of substitute sites, strategic responses and the treatment of uncertain responses within the CVM.


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