Sustainable Cruise Tourism in Marine World Heritage Sites
Cruise-ship tourism is one of the fastest growing industry sectors, with itineraries that regularly visit marine parks and protected areas. UNESCO Marine World Heritage (MWH) Sites feature some of the world’s most exceptional ecosystems, resulting in some cruise lines targeting these sites. To understand the extent of cruise ship visitation and determine perceptions of cruise ship sustainability within and across environmental, economic, and sociocultural dimensions, we conducted an online survey of 45 (out of 50) sites. The survey included responses about the characteristics of cruise ship visitation, strategies for sustainably managing ships, and ideas for encouraging sustainable practices. Among the 45 respondents, 30 (67%) indicated that their MWH site hosts cruise ships or cruise ship passengers, and 25 sites have cruise ships that enter the protected area marine waters. Most sites (62%) indicated an increase in cruise visitation over the last three years. While most sites regulate ballast water (73%) and wastewater (73%) discharge, common concerns focused on ship air emissions and wildlife interactions. Lack of funds generated by cruise ships toward community infrastructure was noted. MWH site managers expressed interest in developing site networks to facilitate sharing of ideas as a first step for increasing sustainability across all sites.