Economic impacts of sustainable marine tourism in the local economy Case study
: Dolphin watching activity in New Quay, Cardigan, Wales

  • Olga Garcia Hernandez

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy


Cetacean watching activity as a touristic activity is steady increasing; its economic benefit has been estimated over US$ 2.1 billion per year globally, with over 13 million people undertaking the activity in 119 countries (IFAW, 2008). However, there have been few studies examining the real contribution that this sub sector can make to the economic well-being of local communities. This project examines the paths of expenditure in a local economy with a marine wildlife tourism attraction. New Quay is a Welsh village located in Cardigan Bay Special Area of Conservation, in the county of Ceredigion, West Wales, which shelters one of only two semi-resident populations of bottlenose dolphins in the UK. Due to the presence of this charismatic species, in recent years the dolphin-watching tourism industry has shown a significant increase, transforming this traditional family holiday destination. Using the methodology “Local Multiplier 3” (LM3) developed by New Economics Foundation (NEF), the project aims to work out a multiplier ratio which will explain how much this touristic activity contributes to economic development of the host community and its potential as economic motor for the region.
This multiplier effect is calculated in three levels: the first one involves dolphin-watching tourists, asking them how and where they spent their holiday budget. Having identified the starting amounts and located the entry points into the local economy of New Quay, the second phase is addressed to the local businesses highlighted by tourists. The final stage is focused in the local spending habits of staff members of these businesses. From this grassroots approach to understanding the contribution of this tourism activity based on marine biodiversity, we can identify the mutual dependence between conservation goals and community livelihoods surrounding protected areas. Further, the project expects to contribute to promotion of a cross sectorial low carbon economy and also towards best practice in spatial planning, to ensure the most sustainable local economic outcomes.
Date of Award2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SponsorsKnowledge Economy Skills Scholarships

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