MONTEVIDEO – Whale watching on Uruguay’s Atlantic coast “has become a tourist attraction,” drawing visitors specifically to view the large marine mammals, Tourism Minister Liliam Kechichian said Wednesday.
The public’s interest in seeing whales is rising and “nature-based tourism has been growing quite a bit in Uruguay,” Kechichian said.
Whale watching season started in July this year and Uruguay’s coastal ecosystem provides the marine mammals with an ideal place to rest and give birth to calves, the tourism minister said.
The season, which usually starts in August, could run until late September or early October, providing visitors with a larger window for whale watching.
“Today, Uruguay has a national protected areas system ... and we are working to see how we can enjoy them without harassing them,” Kechichian said.
Some visitors are traveling to the eastern provinces of Rocha and Maldonado just to see whales, the tourism minister said.
Rocha’s tourism director, Ana Caram, said her province was ideally suited for whale watching and provided visitors with other activities, creating jobs for residents.
“It’s important to work responsibly and offer attractions that not only lead to job creation, but also allow us to protect this beautiful environment that we have,” Caram said.
“Many people who heard there were whales went all the way to Rocha to photograph them,” Caram said, adding that some whales came so close to shore that visitors did not have to venture out in boats to see them.