Whale-related visits earn Latin America 280 million dollars a year

Whale-related visits earn Latin America 280 million dollars a yearSantiago  - Whale-related tourism brings Latin America 280 million dollars a year, according to a study that was made public Tuesday in Chile during the 60th annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Whale-watching is a commercial activity in 91 towns in 18 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, said the research piece, titled State of Whale-Watching.

The study, financed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Global Ocean and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, added that the sector has grown by an average of 11.3 per cent between 1998 and 2006.

In Costa Rica, whale-related tourism grew by 74 per cent, while in Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Argentina the increase was 15-19 per cent.

In total, whale-watching generated last year 80 million dollars in direct revenue for the coastal communities involved.

"But this growth is causing problems in the management of this activity," said Argentine researcher Miguel Iniguez, one of the authors of the document.

In Argentina alone, more than 245,000 people engage in whale- watching every year, mainly in Patagonia. Some 230,000 people do the same in Brazil, 170,000 in Mexico,
105,000 in Costa Rica and 43,000 in Ecuador.

The study stressed that there remain options to diversify such activity, since 75 per cent of all known species of cetaceans are present in the region. (dpa)

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