Whale watching and swimming licenses to be limited

Whales swimming in Vava’u. Photo: kingdomtraveltonga.to

Nuku’alofa – February 26, 2020: 9.40am (Tourism): The Ministry of Tourism, by Gazette Order of the Minister for Tourism, Hon. ‘Akosita Havili
Lavulavu, has limited the whale watching and swimming licences to be issued for the 2020 whale watching season.

The Minister’s Order has been published in the Tonga Government Gazette, effective February 25, 2020. The Order was approved by Cabinet, and exercises powers conferred on the Minister of Tourism by the Whale Watching and Swimming Regulations.

Tonga’s Ministry of Tourism had received a record number of applications from both local and overseas operators applying for a licence to conduct whale watching and swimming activities in all the island groups of Tonga.

The Order was deemed necessary by the Hon. Minister in order to limit the number of whale watching and swimming licences.

This was done for the management, protection and conservation of the whales.

It was also necessary in order to sustain the economic viability of the whale watching and whale swimming industry in the Kingdom of Tonga.

Over the years, the Ministry has received calls to limit the activity, not just from scientists and researchers, but also from traditional leaders, from operators, and from the tourists themselves.

It is believed that the increased activity in the past years has had an effect on the whales in their annual migration to the Kingdom’s waters for the birthing of their calves.

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