Research Output

The sustainability of whale-watching in Scotland.

  Scotland's tourism trade grosses £2.5 billion annually and supports 180,000 jobs; whale-watching is an important part of this activity. Whales and dolphins are the country's number one wildlife attraction and with 11,770 km of coastline the potential for the Scottish industry is huge. In rural areas it can provide as much as 12% of local income. During the tourist season of 2000, questionnaires and telephone interviews were used to investigate the sustainability of Scottish whale-watching. 48 operators cooperated providing economic and environmental information. Most operators were found to be local people (72.4%), supporting five or less full-time equivalent jobs (86.4%). Over half of those questioned (63.2%) had alternative incomes and no formal training in wildlife tourism or business management (70.8%); 89.5% of respondents stated that they follow a code of conduct. The East Coast and Western Isles show the best-perceived trends in tourist numbers. Whale-watching in Scotland is shown to have potential for growth but a need to be regulated and managed from within the industry to ensure environmental and economic sustainability into the future.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    01 January 2003

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  • Publisher

    Taylor & Francis

  • DOI:


  • ISSN:



Woods-Ballard, A. J., Parsons, E. C. M., Hughes, A. J., Velander, K., Ladle, R. J. & Warburton, C. A. (2003). The sustainability of whale-watching in Scotland. Journal of Sustainable Tourism. 11, 40-55. doi:10.1080/09669580308667192. ISSN 0966-9582



Whale watching; Scotland; Tourism; Wildlife attraction; Code of practice; Regulation; Management;

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