Whale shark tourism: good or bad?
Whale shark tourism accounted for $9.4 million in the Maldives in 2013. This type of tourism needs to be monitored to ensure guest satisfaction and whale shark conservation.
Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are listed as vulnerable according to the IUCN. These shakes are docile, and seasonally congregate in certain areas, this allows tourists to swim, snorkel and dive with these creatures.
In tropical regions this type of wildlife tourism has really taken off in recent years, with it becoming an important way of generating income. It is hailed as being an alternative to other consumptive uses of whale sharks such as liver oil and shark finning, this activities will ultimately kill the shark.
Management is required, as without, tourists can have negative affects in the whale sharks, such as disruption, injuring and damage to their habitat.
This study aimed to improve current understanding of whale shark tourism, this was done by looking at patterns and economics of whale shark excursions in the Maldives in 2012 and 2013.
This study estimates that the expenditure on excursions was $7.2 million in 2012 and $9.4 million in 2013. Results show that excursions are increasing and mentions that global shark tourism is increasing in popularity. It is also hoped that this paper can contribute to the establishment of an effective management system.
For the full article see: https://peerj.com/articles/515/
Cagua, Edgar Fernando, et al. “Whale shark economics: a valuation of wildlife tourism in South Ari Atoll, Maldives.” PeerJ 2 (2014): e515.