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Innovation study: ´Economic contribution of the whale-watching industry for the Madeira Archipelago´

14-Março-2018 -

The beauty of Madeira does not finish with just wonderful landscapes and mountains, tropical gardens, old villages and famed wines. Water that surrounds the island is filled with so much beauty too. In the Archipelago of Madeira, we can observe around 35% of the worldwide species of marine mammals. Whale-watching in Madeira is a quite recent but fast-growing activity. The commercial activity of whale-watching began on the south coast of Madeira in the beginning of 2000s. Nowadays there are more than 12 companies dedicated to this business. Most of them are located in the main island of Madeira but there is also one in Porto Santo doing whale-watching during the touristic season. I had a great opportunity to make my master degree project in cooperation with “Ventura| Nature emotion” company. It is a nature tourism company based in Madeira Island, Portugal with a clear ambition – organizing birdwatching tours, whale and dolphin watching tours and outdoor activities around Madeira Island, Desertas islands and Selvagens islands on a classic sailing boat. During my 9-month internship, I worked in the sea and on the land. The internship program has offered me a great opportunity to grow and develop. Working in “Ventura| Nature emotion” as an intern was not only an honor and privilege but a lifelong experience that will forever shape my professional life. I have studied detailed information of marine life of the Madeira Archipelago, learnt the operation system of an ecotourism company business and obtained financial data about whale-watching activity which I used for my final innovation study. Moreover, the background of my first degree in finances was an advantage to develop the proposed study. The main goal of this innovation study is to calculate the economic contribution of the whale-watching industry to the Madeira archipelago in 2015, and to show all financial benefits that each individual species and each individual animal brings to the community. The total direct income from the 12 main companies which conduct whale-watching activity in Madeira Archipelago in 2015 amounted €4 186 364.For this innovation study, we used a few qualitative methods: document analysis, client interviews, active observations and sighting data analysis. By combining data from the active participation of marine- life observation and numbers from whale-watching operators, it was possible to estimate the direct economic contribution of whale-watching. By client interviews, we identified target audience for this kind of activity and key ideas of promotion strategy for whale-watching. This can help to promote Madeira Island as a worldwide whalewatching destination. Finally, directions of future work in a field of whale watching activity in the Madeira Archipelago were determined. This innovation study includes abstract, 5 chapters, conclusion, bibliography and annex.

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