Visitation and economic impact of whale shark tourism in a Maldivian marine protected area
- Subject Areas
- Conservation Biology, Marine Biology, Coupled Natural and Human Systems
- Economic valuation, wildlife tourism, whale shark, Maldives, regression model, direct spend, MPA management, shark watching
- © 2014 Cagua et al.
- This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ PrePrints) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.
- Cite this article
- 2014. Visitation and economic impact of whale shark tourism in a Maldivian marine protected area. PeerJ PrePrints 2:e360v1 https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.360v1
Whale sharks are a major attraction for tourist divers and snorkelers in South Ari Atoll, Maldives. Yet without information regarding the use and economic extent of the attraction, it is difficult to prioritize conservation or implement effective management plans. Using empirical recreational data and generalized mixed models, this study provides the first economic valuation—via direct spend—of whale shark tourism in Maldives. We estimate that direct expenditure on whale shark excursions in the South Ari Marine Protected Area for 2012–2013 at US$7.6 and $9.4 million, respectively. These expenditures are based on an estimate of 72 to 78 thousand tourists who are involved in whale shark excursions annually. This level of visitation and expenditure highlights the need to implement regulations and management which can safeguard the sustainability of the industry through ensuring guest satisfaction and whale shark conservation.