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Whale watching and swimming licenses limited for 2020

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 26/02/2020

The ministry of Tourism yesterday announced the limiting of the whale watching and swimming licenses to be issued for the 2020 whale watching season, effective from February 25th.

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

But information from the ministry states this move was deemed necessary by the Hon. Minister in order to limit the number of whale watching and swimming licenses. 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.

It was also confirmed from the ministry that the exact total number of licenses that would be granted has not been finalised but will be released later on this week.

There is also no change in the criteria for the submission of a request for a whale-watching and swimming license and the ministry will still be following the same selection process as before.

Although this announcement from the ministry is for the 2020 whale watching season they are expected to continue with this in the years to come.

© Radio and Television Tonga News