Thursday, April 15, 2010

Florida Cave Diving is Lucrative

That's according to the results of study recently published in a fancy schmancy academic journal.

The writers and researchers of the article — O. Ashton Morgan and William Huth of Appalachian State University in North Carolina and University of West Florida, respectively — developed a single-site travel cost model to show the economic value associated with recreational cave diving.

The end results, published recently in “Resource and Energy Economics,” amazed even the researchers. The article states that under the spring’s existing conditions, the economic impact of each diver was estimated to be approximately $146 to $167 per person, per trip. Based on the number of expected trips this translates into approximately $1,075 in annual per-person economic impact, or $575,000 a year.
However, Huth explained that since publishing the article, he has since talked to Blue Springs personnel who say the number of divers has since doubled.

“So basically we are not looking at $575,000 in annual surplus, we’re talking more like a $1 million,” Huth said. “Blue Springs could easily, beyond the jails, be the biggest incoming revenue source for Jackson County, with it bringing in about a $1 million a year.”

However, the study revealed more than just the economic impact of springs diving. It also gave insight to the cave’s potential demand among divers, if improvement to access were made.

Huth and Morgan described in their article that the cave has two potential ways to grow in consumer demand.

The first is to improve access to Twin Caves Spring and Hole in the Rock Spring, which are currently only accessible by boat.

Second, if divers were granted access to a newly discovered passage, this too would have an impact.

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