Seawater quality is critical for island and coastal communities dependent on coastal tourism. Improper management of coastal development and inland watersheds can decrease seawater quality and adversely impact marine life, human health, and economic growth. Agricultural runoff and improper sewage management compromise nearshore water quality in many coastal regions and can impact visitation decisions of tourists who are drawn to these destinations. The purpose of this paper is to understand how tourists’ decisions to revisit Barbados might be affected by changes in coastal and marine quality. We use data collected from tourists to examine how tourists’ stated willingness to return is affected by scenarios involving changes in seawater quality, beach width and coral reef health. Results reveal that return decisions are sensitive to changes in all aspects of coastal and marine quality. A reduction in seawater quality discourages tourists’ intention to return more than other environmental factors. These results are of paramount interest to destination managers, marketers and policymakers who rely on repeat visitation data to develop marketing strategies and infer future direction. This research highlights the importance of prioritizing seawater quality management to protect the coastal tourism product, especially in small island developing states (SIDS) with a high reliance on tourism income.
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