26 Sep 2012

Tonga government looking at regulating whale watching industry

3:39 pm on 26 September 2012

Tonga's Ministry of Commerce, Tourism and Labour is working on regulations for its burgeoning whale watching industry.

The ministry has issued 24 licences, mainly to operators in the Vava'u group of islands, for this year's June to October season, up from 20 last season.

The ministry's Alisi Holani says it is working to submit draft regulations on whale watching and whale swimming by next month.

"And this basically is to regulate the behaviour of operators or people who come to interact with whales around the whales, so it's basically for the conservation and protection of the whales."

Alisi Holani says the ministry is also working to make the establishment of businesses easier, in the hope that more local people will be encouraged to enter the whale watching industry, which she says is dominated by overseas operators.