Monday, February 28, 2011

Niche Tourism - Whale Sharks in Mozambique worth $50 million?

Great article today in the Boston Globe on sustainable whale shark tourism in Mozambique at Praia do Tofo.

What we were unaware of was the regional tourism valuation of $50 million. That's an impressive number and one much higher than traditional artisanal fisheries which breakdown a whale shark into a few dollars locally compounded with declining stocks.

PRAIA DO TOFO — Eyes stinging with the wonder of it, my head breaks the surface and a rippling swell sloshes about my ears. Up here all is hysteria, hyper-adrenalized euphoria: 16 goggle-eyed tourists treading water, yelling astonishment through surf and snorkels. Bubble, splash, gurgle . . . “ . . . mazing’’ . . . “ . . . did you see?’’ It’s an understandable reaction when you have just been for a paddle alongside a shark the length of a bus.

In recent years, their docility has spawned a mini-industry of companies offering people the chance to swim with one, a niche tourism market worth more than $50 million a year. Many specialists claim that interactions between whale sharks and humans, when carefully managed, have little negative impact on the animals’ behavior, with some advocating responsible tourism as a key means to safeguard them down the line.

Complete story.

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