501(c)(3) United States based charity
Written by Jennifer Cole, Media and Conservation Specialist, White Shark Africa, wsaecoprogram.co.za
Eco-tourism is a business platform that supports local communities, encourages sustainable practices and promotes conservation through educational and cultural insight. An existing market of shark products has caused a significant decline in population numbers of many species. It is estimated that up to as many as 273 million sharks are being killed every year. Protected in South Africa since 1991, the Great White sharks charismatic qualities attract thousands of visitors to Mossel Bay annually. Several studies have shown that the revenue produced by shark Eco-tourism, makes sharks worth more alive than dead.
Utilizing the knowledge and practices of locally experienced people enables business’s to maximize the quality of the visitor’s experience through cultural immersion. Tours that specialize in local area attractions provide people with personal insights and give them a special connection to the place. Eco-tourism supplies job opportunities to the local community and can provide the ability to expand on skills and knowledge with or without previous experience or degrees. This in turn empowers the local people and incorporates cultural influences through the work atmosphere.
Sustainable business certifications and green practices not only help improve business functionality, but also help in the efforts of having a low environmental impact. Eco-friendly companies such as White Shark Africa, have found a way to promote sustainable practices and encourage the survival of these animals as a local, economic asset. Setting an example to the community and clientele increases business quality and adds credentials. With the importance of local biodiversity as an asset, conservation is then valued and integrated into business planning.
The ability to use multiple educational avenues in Eco-tourism maximizes the potential for spreading awareness. Activities such as cage diving provide the platform to providing information and suggestions on how anyone can get involved. White Shark Africa offers a volunteer based Eco-program available to anyone with no previous experience or degree necessary. This aids in the progression of shark sciences, raising public awareness, training new educators and promoting conservation efforts.