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Extent and Economic Value of Manta Ray Watching in Maldives

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Manta rays, Manta alfredi, are a major attraction for tourist divers and snorkelers in the Republic of Maldives (central Indian Ocean). The aims of this study were to assess the extent and economic value of manta ray watching in the Maldives, by surveys of tourist numbers at manta diving sites, and from interviews with experienced divers. Ninety-one manta dive sites were identified, where tourists made an estimated 143,000 dives and over 14,000 snorkels annually during 2006–2008. This was estimated to be worth about US$8.1 million per year in direct revenue. The growth of manta ray watching has provided support for both research and conservation in the Maldives. However, there are indications that at the most popular manta dive sites the large numbers of visiting divers and snorkelers may be having a negative impact on manta numbers. There is a need for improved tourist education, and perhaps for regulation of diver numbers at some sites.
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Keywords: ECONOMIC VALUE; MALDIVES; MANTA RAY; WILDLIFE TOURISM

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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  • Tourism in Marine Environments is an interdisciplinary journal dealing with a variety of management issues in marine settings. It is a scientific journal that draws upon the expertise of academics and practitioners from various disciplines related to the marine environment, including tourism, marine science, geography, social sciences, psychology, environmental studies, economics, marketing, and many more.
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