New Report Documents Massive Growth in Whale Watching

Tuesday, 23 June, 2009
Madeira, Portugal
The global whale watching industry has experienced massive growth over the past decade, a report released today by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) reveals.
The new report, ‘Whale Watching Worldwide’ comes as more than 80 countries debate the future of whaling and whale conservation at the 61st annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Madeira, Portugal. 

The new, country-by-country economic analysis shows more than 13 million people took whale watching tours last year in 119 countries worldwide, generating ticket fees and tourism expenditures of more than US$2.1 billion during 2008 (around £1.27bn).   The report also reveals dramatic growth of the whale watching industry in Asia, the Pacific, South America, the Caribbean and Europe significantly outpacing global tourism growth rates over the past decade.

More than 3,000 whale watching operations around the world now employ an estimated 13,200 people.

Australian Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett, welcomed the new report which Australia is formally introducing to government delegations attending the Madeira IWC meeting. “I commend IFAW for producing this very timely report. At a time when our global economy, our planet’s great whales and international whale conservation efforts are all under threat, it is encouraging to see coastal communities across Australia, the Asia Pacific region and worldwide reaping massive benefits from the dynamic growth of this form of ecotourism.”

He added: “The bottom line is clear. Whales are worth much more alive than dead. Responsible whale watching is the most sustainable, environmentally-friendly and economically beneficial ‘use’ of whales in the 21st Century.” 

Patrick Ramage, IFAW Whale Programme Director, said: “While governments debate what to do about whales, their citizens are pointing the way. We should be conserving whales in 2009 and shooting them with cameras, not compromising conservation measures and expanding commercial whaling.

“Animals, people and the global economy all do better when whales are seen and not hurt.”

IFAW opposes whaling because it is cruel and unnecessary, and promotes responsible whale watching as the humane and sustainable alternative.

International research, data collection and analysis for the IFAW report were conducted over the past 18 months by Economists at Large and Associates of Melbourne, Australia.

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