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A Giant Opportunity: The Economic Impact of Manta Rays on the Mozambican Tourism Industry—An Incentive for Increased Management and Protection

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Manta rays are internationally threatened species and population declines have been reported in various locations worldwide. As iconic megafauna species, they are also major drawcards for wildlife tourism industries. Economic valuation of these industries can provide an incentive for the protection of species and natural habitats through the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs) and the restriction of harvesting or trade. Site-specific estimates are essential, particularly in developing countries, to promote the nonconsumptive use of resources and develop appropriate management strategies. This study represents the first localized estimate of the economic benefits of manta ray tourism in Mozambique. Data from 478 tourist expenditure surveys, 15 stakeholder surveys, and yearly diver numbers provided by coastal tour operators were used to estimate the economic impact of manta ray tourism in the Inhambane Province. Manta ray–focused tours were estimated to be worth US$10.9 million per year in direct revenue to dive operators in the Inhambane Province, with an estimated direct economic impact (including associated tourism expenditures) of US$34.0 million annually. In the absence of manta ray tourism, between $16.1 million and $25.7 million would be lost to the region each year. Tourist and stakeholder survey responses emphasized the importance of manta rays to Mozambican coastal tourism. Both parties highlighted the need for increased protection of marine species and their environment and showed strong support for the implementation of MPAs along the Inhambane coast.
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Keywords: ECONOMIC VALUATION; MANTA RAY; MARINE PROTECTED AREA (MPA) MANAGEMENT; MOZAMBIQUE; WILDLIFE TOURISM

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 12, 2016

This article was made available online on September 14, 2016 as a Fast Track article with title: "A GIANT OPPORTUNITY: THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF MANTA RAYS ON THE MOZAMBICAN TOURISM INDUSTRY – AN INCENTIVE FOR INCREASED MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION".

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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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