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RESOURCES: CASE STUDIES
|Stephen L. Wearing & Paul A. Cunningham
|International Cases in Sustainable Tourism Book Contributions
|Related Link :
The case study has been published in the book International Cases in Sustainable Travel & Tourism and can be purchased from Goodfellow Publishers. To receive an exclusive 10% discount on the book enter the code BESTENGP at checkout when buying directly from the Goodfellow Publishers website. Following the link you can access the free of charge Powerpoint presentation on whale watching Kaikoura.
Synopsis and Learning Outcomes
Leading up to 2001, the international whale-watching industry was valued at over US$1 billion (Hoyt, 2001), and attracted over 9 million people annually. According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), by 2008, the number had grown to over 13 million people participating in over 119 countries and its economic value was estimated to be worth in excess of US$2.1 billion per annum in revenue (O’Connor et al., 2009:8). The WWK venture is one of the first whale-watching companies in this rapidly globalising field.
Internationally, the annual growth rate for whale watching exceeds that of tourism. The growth rate in five of the seven regions in of the world: Asia (17% per year), Central America and the Caribbean (13% per year), South America (10% per year), Oceania and the Pacific Islands (10% per year) and Europe (7%), provides evidence of the strength of this emerging industry (O’Connor et al., 2009). Based on this trajectory of growth, the IFAW suggests that whaling countries would benefit from switching to whale watching. Whale watching has become a valuable resource for tourism and the destination communities that are able to develop it. Kaikoura, located on New Zealand’s South Island, is one example of a community which has developed this activity and whose reputation as a whale-watching destination is growing.
Whale Watch Kaikoura (WWK) is New Zealand’s only marine-based whale-watching company, operating year round and offering visitors an exciting and up-close encounter with Sperm whales. WWK is an indigenous, 100% Maori-owned and operated venture in the small coastal town of Kaikoura. The company has played a vital role in rebuilding the local economy through the development of community-based tourism in Kaikoura. The company was founded in 1987 by local Maori to create jobs for local Maori and to establish an economic base for the Ngati Kuri community. It has since grown into a multi-million dollar ecotourism business. WWK has been successful in developing a business run by the local indigenous community while at the same time meeting the requirements and guidelines of ecotourism, including those related to whale watching. The profitability of WWK has enabled them to secure the Kaikoura Peninsula which has been occupied by Maori for about 1,000 years and which was at risk of being lost to overseas investors.
Many community-based ecotourism operators are working within a new politico-economic space created by the shared language of ‘sustainability’ and a more mainstream environmental agenda. Many of these groups are keenly aware of the relationships between environmental issues and tourism that have come to prominence, especially the interrelationships between humans and environmental risks. This case study examines the WWK from this perspective.
After completing this case study, learners should be able to understand:
- the way local ecotourism tourism ventures can meet the varying demands of sustainability, in terms of the way this term is conceived, applied and implemented into the management of such enterprises;
- the scope and scale of the economic, social, cultural and biophysical impacts of whale watching as a tourism activity in a variety of contexts;
- the relationship between whaling, whale-watching tourism and the natural environment; and
- the policies and industry-based initiatives related to whale watching as a sustainable tourism activity.