Value of bathing waters and influence of bathing water quality: research findings

Research aimed to provide socio-economic understanding of the value of Scottish bathing waters and the influence of bathing water quality (BWQ) to bathers, beach users and to the national and local economies.

Key learning about the overall value of BWQ in Scotland

Local economic benefits associated with visits to case study bathing water sites. Although it is not appropriate to extrapolate the local economic impact estimates from the five case study sites (£19.4m business turnover, 263 FTE, £8.8M GVA), they give a sense of the potential magnitude of the economic benefits of Scotland’s bathing waters, considering that there are 86 designated sites in total, and there are other beaches that are not designated but still visited.

The value of recreational visits to case study bathing water sites. Data from the onsite survey revealed that the estimated WTP for recreational visits (the welfare value) to the five case study bathing water sites is: (i) £8.90 per person per visit; (ii) £356 per person per year; or (iii) £12.7M per year for all visits across all five sites.

The value of improving BWQ standards at the national level. Reducing the number of Scottish beaches failing to meet BWQ standards by 1% would result in benefits equating to £2M per year. This value can be used alongside the costs of meeting the same objective in cost-benefit analyses ( CBA) to inform policy decisions.

The overall importance of Scottish bathing waters. Visits to the beach were shown to be important for the respondents: nearly 50% of them visit more than once a month (across both onsite and online surveys). Respondents do various activities at the beach and receive various multiple benefits. The benefits received are significant, especially considering that physical and mental health and wellbeing benefits (potentially the largest benefits delivered) have not been elaborated on in this study (beyond restorative benefits).


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