Differential Fees: Raising Revenue, Distributing Demand


  • Robert E. Manning
  • Elaine A. Callinan
  • Herbert E. Echelberger
  • Edward J. Koenemann
  • Douglas N. McEwen


User fees, differential fees, revenue, demand, peaking, park management.


The proper role of user fees in parks and recreation has been subject to long-standing debate. We wished to add to these discussions empirically by studying the way users respond to fee initiatives and the extent to which user fees might be employed as a management tool. The specific objectives of our study were to determine the ability of differential fees to redistribute demand and raise revenue. An experimental differential fee system-higher fees for the more popular campsites and lower fees for the Jess popular campsites-was implemented in three Vermont state parks during August 1982. User response to the differential fee system was closely monitored through observation of campsite selection and a user survey. The differential fee system resulted in more even distribution of campsite use and a small increase in total campground revenue. No discriminatory effects were found. Larger differentials than employed in this study will likely be needed to effect more substantive results. We recommend further application of differential fees under closely monitored conditions.





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