21 Jun 2005

NGO says Pacific countries could earn millions from whale watch tourism

7:42 pm on 21 June 2005

An NGO dedicated to the protection and celebration of whales says whale watching is a key way for Pacific countries to boost tourism.

Whales Alive Director Olive Andrews says whale watching is now a

1-billion US dollar industry worldwide.

She says this is being threatened by calls to resume commercial whaling and increase the number of whales killed for scientific research - topics on agenda at this week's International Whaling Commission meeting in Ulsan Korea.

Ms Andrews says Tonga has shown how a sustainable industry can be created out of the whales passing through its waters.

"In Tonga, the report put out by Massey University shows that whale watching in Tonga is worth 700-thousand US dollars a season. And that kind of tourism dollar includes people who travel there to see whales, and also includes their airfares, hotel accommodation, taxis, food and other sorts of tourism activities they do as part of their whale watching experience."

Whales Alive has offices in Tonga, Hawaii and Australia.