A guilty pleasure: Tourist perspectives on the ethics of feeding whale sharks in Oslob, Philippines

Last modified: 
March 6, 2019 - 1:44pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2018
Date published: 10/2018
Authors: Jackie Ziegler, Joshua Silberg, Gonzalo Araujo, Jessica Labaja, Alessandro Ponzo, Rick Rollins, Philip Dearden
Journal title: Tourism Management
Volume: 68
Pages: 264 - 274
ISSN: 02615177

This study explored the ethics of provisioning wildlife to enhance tourist interactions at a whale shark tourism site in Oslob, Philippines. TripAdvisor comments (n = 947) and tourist surveys (n = 761) were used to better understand tourists' perceptions of whale shark provisioning in Oslob. The ethical decisions made were then critically assessed using utilitarian and animal welfare ethical philosophies. The majority of respondents supported whale shark provisioning, despite many being aware of the ethical complications of provisioning sharks for tourism purposes. Respondents justified their participation in this activity using mainly economic, human enjoyment, and animal welfare arguments. A utilitarian assessment of the potential costs and benefits of this activity highlighted the gaps in our knowledge regarding the economic and social benefits of this activity, as well as the negative impacts on the sharks’ welfare. Until such analyses are completed, significant ethical questions remain regarding the provisioning of these sharks.

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