environment-economics-society BME Department of Environmental Economics

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BME Department of Environmental Economics
Magyar tudósok körútja 2




Birdwatching and ecoturism: an introduction to Florida’s example

2014. március 05, szerda | Budapest



On March 5th, 2014, the Department of Environmental Economics has once again had the pleasure of welcoming Dr. Mike Slotkin, of the Florida Institute of Technology (FloridaTech), an expert of environmental economics. On this leg of his tour of Hungary, he was accompanied by former Head of Department Prof. János Szlávik.


In his presentation, Dr. Slotkin introduced the audience to the attractiveness of bird life in Florida, and within that, in Brevard County. Over the years, touristic traditions and trends came into existence based on this environmental asset. He mentioned the positive effects and new opportunities that the internet has to offer to reach a wider audience, but he also had to mention the negative effects the crisis has had on this touristic product. He pointed out that the social status and age group of the target group is a crucial factor in the demand for this touristic product, and he gave an insight into how they have attempted to expand this demand, with mixed results.


He also talked about the wide-spread and knock-on effects this touristic product might have on the economic life of Brevard County and Florida. Brevard County has an economy that can be measured in the order of billions of dollars, so a touristic product of this scale may only have a minor, albeit beneficial, effect on the economy, he explained. Furthermore, the crisis has had a particularly detrimental effect on Brevard County, famous of its lagoons. In this county, the real estate crash occurred years before the global financial and economic crisis began. Although almost ten years have passed since that, a full recovery remains far from sight. He explained why this was so tragic in the case of Brevard County: in Florida, as in much of the United States, taxation is generally based on taxing real estate, rather than taxing income, which is more usual in Europe. This meant that as house prices collapsed, tax revenues went with them. He pointed out that because of this disappearance of taxpayers’ money, there is now insufficient funding for not only the protection of the lagoons, but also, the maintenance of the state’s educational and road infrastructure, among other things.


It is awful to see that the lagoon is dying in front of our eyes, he exclaimed, causing an irreparable damage to not only to the area, but to Florida and the whole of the United States. A natural asset of incomparable beauty and a continent-sized zone of attractiveness may be gone forever. This tragedy is particularly painful since the chosen representatives of the county would have ample means of providing funding for the protection. However, for a number of reasons, including lack of courage and decency, they would rather put the responsibility of these decisions on the general public. Under these circumstances, one can only hope that the course of events will take a turn for the better.