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New Report Shows Wildlife Tourism is Strong Economic Driver in the Gulf Coast

July 12, 2013 11:30 AM

New Report: Wildife Tourism and the Gulf Coast Economy

The coastal environment of the Gulf of Mexico supports a $19 billion annual wildlife tourism industry, an industry which will depend on critical investments in coastal environmental restoration. This assessment is the conclusion of a new survey by Datu Research LLC, "Wildlife Tourism and the Gulf Coast Economy."

Wildlife tourism, which includes recreational fishing, hunting and wildlife watching, is extremely valuable to the Gulf Coast economy and is highly dependent on the health of the endangered Gulf Coast ecosystem in the five states of Louisiana, Florida, Texas, Alabama and Mississippi. The report is being released more than three years after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster and as the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council finalizes their Comprehensive Restoration Plan.

Key findings for the Gulf region:

1. Tourism generates 2.6 million jobs

2. Wildilfe tourism generates over $19 billion in annual spending

3. Wildlife tourism generates $5.3 billion annually in federal, state, and local tax revenue

4. Over 1,100 guide and outfitter entities and 11,000 lodging and dining establishments generate business for one another

5. Wildlife tourism businesses rely on healthy coastal environments.

From the report: "Because a healthy ecosystem is at the heart of the region’s economy, restoring the Gulf ecosystem is the best way to help the region economically. Owners of wildlife tourism businesses who were interviewed for this study clearly indicated what is at stake for their industry; where ecosystems can no longer support wildlife, visitors have no reason to come. This suggests the urgency of restoring ecosystems to avoid losing a key part of the economy. Funds from the RESTORE Act and other legal settlements provide an unprecedented opportunity to protect not only the coastal environment but also one of the region’s most important economic drivers."

(Photo by Burg Ransom)

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