Before the pandemic, in 2019, on average the island had 3,500 tourists visit per year.
- Photo for illustration purposes only -
Published on Wednesday, July 21, 2021
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Cocos Island National Park produces $14 million annual income to the country, according to studies carried out for the National System of Conservation Areas, SINAC.
Before the pandemic, in 2019, on average the island had 3,500 tourists visit per year. Of these 52% were European, 19% from North America (Mexico, the United States and Canada) and 17% Asian.
According to the study, an average tourist travels 10 days by boat when visiting the island, to do recreational tourism in the area, which generates benefits for the tour operators and local commerce. In addition, it is estimated that to visit the island on average each tourist spent about $4,000 on activities such as diving, snorkeling and hiking.
The coastal protected marine area sharks are the main attraction for tourists. The park is a protection zone for 14 species of sharks, among them: hammerhead, bigeye thresher, tiger, whale, whitetip reef, among others.
“Maintaining healthy shark populations is crucial in economic terms," Gina Cuza-Jones, Regional Director of the Cocos Marine Conservation Area said. "Tourism associated with the observation of live sharks has been estimated to generate annual profits of up to 45 times higher than what is generated by the sale of its meat; that means, live sharks are much more valuable both in ecological and economic terms.”
However, in the area outside the fish protection area, it generates annually more than $21 million per year from sport and tourist fishing services. As well as $10 million per year in industrial fishing activity, according to a study by the International Center for Economic Policy for Sustainable Development Research at the National University of Costa Rica.
The island is located 532 km from Puntarenas Province. In 1997 the island was declared a World Heritage Site, Wetland of World Importance and Historic Architectural Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO.
Shark populations play a fundamental role in the health of the oceans, this being a predator located at the top of the food chain, fundamental species for maintaining ocean balance. For conservation experts, the abundance of these predators is the best indicator of a healthy marine ecosystem.
The protection and management of these marine protected wild areas are vital, due to a decrease in the population of sharks that could put at risk 95% of the income generated by tourism, fishing activities, experts said.
June marked the 43rd anniversary of the declaration of Cocos Island as a National Park and the government announced a plans to protect the island.
What have you heard about illegal fishing in the maritime zone of Cocos Island? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to email@example.com
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