There clearly is money to be made in the shark tourism business in the Bahamas.
The dive industry in the Bahamas generates nearly US$114 million/108.4 million Euros per year, with 99 percent of that money coming from shark diving, according to a recent study published in the scientific journal Biological Conservation.
Andrea Haas, a researcher at the Cape Eleuthera Institute and lead author of the study, told Hakai Magazine:
“Our study found that the Bahamas has the largest shark diving economy in the world. This is exciting because it demonstrates the stream of economic benefits that the Bahamas is receiving . . . from conservation actions it took many years ago.”
One big caveat to that number, however, is that while shark tourism is a higher earner than shark fishing, a large chunk of that money is earned by foreign-owned, liveaboard dive charter boats, so that money never enters the local Bahamian economy.
Elena Salim Haubold, who was not involved in the study but is co-founder of the U.K-based Shark Business nonprofit organization that promotes shark protection through ecotourism, said:
“When local communities receive financial benefits from their natural resources, they are much more likely to recognize their importance and get actively involved in their protection. Unfortunately, this new research demonstrates that a high percentage of all money spent on shark tourism in the Bahamas ends up leaving the country via foreign-owned tour operators.”
So the more money that flows back to actual Bahamians, the more amenable they would be to continuing and expanding shark conservation and tourism in their country, according to Haas.
Check out the full Hakai Magazine article here.