The value of marine ecotourism for an European outermost region

Adriana Ressurreição, Frederico Cardigos, Eva Giacomello, Nuno Leite, Frederico Oliveira, Michel J. Kaiser, Jorge Gonçalves, Ricardo Serrão Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Marine ecotourism is a pivotal sector in the blue economy strategies of many nations and is a vital economic activity for peripheral coastal regions and islands; yet a comprehensive understanding of its socioeconomic importance remains poorly quantified due to a lack of systematic evidence collation. This is even more pronounced when compared with other traditional marine activities (i.e. commercial fisheries), which are the target of monitoring programs that span several decades. The paucity of information on marine ecotourism and the disproportionate influence of traditional activities in decision-making arenas represent a practical impediment to promoting the broader agenda of blue growth and ecosystem-based management for Europe's regional seas. This study presents an assessment of the socioeconomic impact of non-extractive recreational activities closely associated with marine biodiversity (i.e. whale watching, diving and big game fishing) in one of Europe's outermost regions: the Azores archipelago (northeast Atlantic). Data were collected through a series of questionnaire surveys of the clients (n = 1740) and managers of marine-tourism businesses (n = 49). Our results suggest that in 2014 approximately 17% of total visitors to the Azores engaged in marine ecotourism activities generating approximately 80€ million in total expenditures to the regional economy (2.2% of regional Gross Domestic Product). Results also indicate that on average a typical marine ecotourist has longer stay and higher expenditure pattern compared to other visitors. These values add a new dimension to arguments in support of marine conservation and call attention to the comprehensive integration of marine ecotourism activities in management plans.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106129
JournalOcean & Coastal Management
Volume222
Early online date16 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022

Keywords

  • Azores
  • Employment
  • Marine ecotourism
  • Non-extractive activities
  • Participation
  • Socio-economic impact
  • Visitor expenditure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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