13 Jun 2011

Curb on whale watching licences seen as good thing in Tonga

7:47 pm on 13 June 2011

Well established whale watch tour operators in Tonga are happy that the Tourism Ministry has issued fewer licences this year.

The Ministry of Tourism has issued 20 licences to whale watching operators for the coming season, compared to 24 last year.

Whale watching has developed into a lucrative tourist attraction and Jeffrey Le Strange who has run 'Whales in the Wild' tour company for nearly ten years, says too many opportunists were running tours with little regard for conservation.

"Our Whale Watch Association has been stressing to government not to go willy nilly giving everybody licenses and putting more and more boats on the water. We have to make it that it is a very valuable commodity for Tonga to be able to do it and we have to be careful that we don't in fact scare the whales away."

Jeffrey Le Strange says visitors come from all over the world to experience whale watching.