27 Sep 2012

Vital that Tonga doesn't spoil whale watching: 'Eua operator

7:00 pm on 27 September 2012

The president of a Tonga eco-tourism association is urging the government not to let commercialisation destroy the country's whale-watching industry.

The comment follows an announcement from the Ministry of Commerce, Tourism and Labour that it 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.

Taki Hausia is the president of the Eco Tourism Association on 'Eua, where whale watching is in its infancy.

He says the association is working to ensure that whale-watching and other tourism activities on 'Eua are sustainably managed.

"We've learnt also a lesson from Vava'u that they've over-licensed the whale-watching. I think the government has just been handing out licences without considering the environmental impact on the whales."

Taki Hausia says the 'Eua Eco Tourism Association has written to the government asking it to consult with 'Eua's chiefly council before issuing any more whale watching licenses.