Whale Watching in Iceland
In 2011 nearly 130 thousand tourists went whale watching in Iceland. This compared with the mid 1990s when the first whale watching trips were on offer, represents an adventurous development in nature-based tourism. To many, Iceland is the best destination world wide for those who would like to see these giants in their natural environment.
The main attraction is the minke whale, frequently seen in Skjalfandi Bay off Husavik and Faxafloi Bay off Reykjavik, but there are also other species of cetaceans, frequently visiting these two areas, including humpbacks and blue whale. There are also dolphins and porpoises in these two areas.
Where there are tourists, there are restaurants and tourist shops. The Reykjavik Harbour is rapidly changing from a rather dull industrial port area into an area servicing 60 – 70 thousand tourists a year. In Husavik whale watching vessels compete with fishing boats for space.
“Whales have become a synecdoche for nature in contemporary society’s debate over how to use the resources of the planet.” says Stephen Wearing, associate professor at the University of Technology, Sidney, Australia (UTS).” He found that participation in whale watching grew from 9 million tourists in 2001 to 13 million in 2008, with revenues rising from $1 billion to $2.1 billion per annum over that period. Whaling, on the other hand, relies heavily on state and private subsidies.