Whale Watching More Valuable Than Hunting
August 21, 2001
Whale watching has mushroomed in recent years into a billion dollar tourist industry that far outweighs the value of whale hunting, according to a report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
- During the 1990s, the number of people going on whale-watching tours nearly tripled, hitting 10 million to 11 million in 2000.
- Whale watchers paid more than $300 million for tour tickets last year and far more for land-based costs surrounding the tours, the report says.
- The industry is growing 12 percent a year, triple the rate of international tourism in general.
- In contrast, the wholesale value of whale meat sold last year in Japan, one of the last major whaling nations, was put at $32 million.
By using a tracking network of underwater microphones and human spotters on land, air and sea, tour companies say they have a 98 percent success rate for whale-watching expeditions off the Northwest Pacific coast.
Worldwide, whale-watching tours are available in 495 cities, say researchers.
Source: James Brooke, "The Watch for Whales Is Outpacing the Hunts," New York Times, August 19, 2001; Erich Hoyt, "WHALE WATCHING 2001: Worldwide Tourism Numbers, Expenditures, And Expanding Socioeconomic Benefits," International Fund for Animal Welfare, August 2001.
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