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WHALES AND DOLPHIN WATCHING IN MONSERRAT


Montserrat (UK)
Population: 3,000.
Land area: 102 sq km.
Tourist arrivals by air: 5,076 (-41.6% on prev. yr.)
Tourist arrivals (day): 840 (no cruise ship arrivals).
Total Tourist Expenditures: $5.4 million USD.
Tourism Budget: $96,000 USD.
GDP at factor cost: $35.07 million USD.
1994 figures on whale watching: Nil.
1998 figures on whale watching: Nil.
Whale-watching ports (current or potential): No information.
Land-based viewing sites: No information.
Whale-watching potential: Minimal.
(Figures above are latest figures for 1997, except as noted.)

Since Hurricane Hugo's devastations in 1989, Montserrat has suffered major volcanic eruptions dating to July 1995. The south and central part of the island have been devastated including the capital of Plymouth and other small towns. A large percentage of the population of 12,000 in 1991 have left the island and currently there are 3,000 residents. As of 1997, despite and partly because of the continuing volcanic activity, 5,076 visitors came to the island, a 76.2% decline in arrivals since 1994 when 21,285 came the last stable year for Montserrat (CTO 1997). The tourists were mainly scientists, journalists and curious on-lookers. Tourist facilities are limited to bed and breakfast. The airport is still closed, so access is only by ferry and helicopter, both with daily service from nearby Antigua. In the early 1990s there was one tour boat that regularly made runs along the west coast of the island where, in March and April, humpback whales were sometimes seen in passing. Various dolphin species have also been seen around the island. However, at present there is no prospect for developing cetacean tourism here.

Acknowledgments: Jane Atkinson, CTO 1997.


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