Estimating the Economic Impact of Nature Tourists: A Study of Participants in the Potholes and Prairie Birding Festival

Study Methods


An intercept survey conducted at the Festival asked both local and non-local attendees a series of questions to qualify the role of the event in motivating their visit to Jamestown. Expenditures by non-Jamestown area residents who indicated that the Birding Festival was not their primary reason for visiting Jamestown were excluded from the estimate of the economic impact of the event, as were expenditures made by local residents who indicated they would have engaged in other local activities in the absence of the Festival. The local impact area was defined as the Jamestown trade area and quantified by two separate questions, one asking if the respondent lives in the Jamestown area and another that requested the respondent’s zip code.

The questionnaire was distributed to participants on the third day of the four day event. Participants were asked about expenditures associated with attending the Festival such as outlays for lodging, food and beverage, and personal retail purchases. The questionnaire also requested basic demographic information, and inquired about the participant’s length of stay in Jamestown as well as their level of satisfaction with various aspects of the festival and their perceptions regarding the Jamestown area. Of 104 individuals registered for the event, 55 questionnaires representing 68 participants (couples often returned only one questionnaire) were collected, for an effective response rate of 65 percent.

Average expenditures of Festival participants (after adjustments described above) were multiplied by total attendance figures to estimate the direct economic impact from visitor spending. Festival personnel provided information on operational expenditures (e.g., for catering, transportation, and guides) associated with the event. Secondary economic impacts were estimated by allocating both visitor expenditures and operational expenditures to the appropriate economic sectors (e.g., shopping expenditures to retail trade, lodging expenditures to business and personal services) and applying the interdependence coefficients of an input-output model of the area economy (Coon and Leistritz, 2002).

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