North Vancouver Island, the Azores Islands, Hervey Bay, Queensland, the Dominican Republic, Newport Beach, California, Montauk, New York, Tenerife South and Zihuatenejo, Mexico have all applied to become Whale Heritage Sites (WHS) within seven days of applications opening on 4th April 2016.
The eight whale watching destinations made their application online through the Whale Heritage Site website, answering a series of qualifying questions. Their answers will now be considered by the WHS Steering Committee and a decision taken whether to approve them for Whale Heritage Site Candidate status.
At this stage, a more in-depth audit will be undertaken and a report produced to highlight which areas fulfil the criteria and where improvements need to be made. Destinations can then work independently or seek the assistance of the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA), the partnership which operates the accreditation initiative, to work on these improvements and set processes in place for continual progression. Once the destination is ready, it will file a report to the Independent Judging Committee and an on-site inspection will be undertaken to determine whether the destination can be granted full Whale Heritage Site Accreditation.
“Applying for Whale Heritage Site status is a matter of common sense for the local community and tourism industry of Hervey Bay, Queensland where the whale watching industry forms an integral part of our social fabric,” Leigh Bennett, Interim General Manager, Visit Fraser Coast said. “WHS status also helps lift the standards of our whale watching fleet to new heights and sees them actively engaging in a truly global network – we’re all very excited to be considered for this new initiative.’