1 Oct 2012

Tonga govt working to ease whale-watching entry for local operators

4:53 am on 1 October 2012

Tonga's government is making changes to the business environment in order to ease the entry into whale watching for local operators.

The Ministry of Commerce, Tourism and Labour 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 many local operators have given up whale-watching since 2008 when Tonga got caught up in the global economic crunch and overseas operators now dominate the industry.

She says the government's trying to change that.

"We're now amending our Business Licence Act to a perpetual licence, the licence fees will go down, the whale-watching licence that they have to obtain will now be for two years instead of a per annum licences and so we're trying to improve the environment for setting up and operating businesses."

Alisi Holani says the ministry's working to submit draft regulations for both whale watching and whale swimming by next month.