Wildlife Tourism Needs a Healthy Gulf

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The Gulf Coast environment is the backbone of the Gulf Coast economy, with the tourism industry being particularly vulnerable to the dangers of coastal land loss.

Tourism generates 2.6 million jobs in the five Gulf Coast states, nearly five times the number of jobs provided by the region’s other three largest resource-based industries: commercial fishing, shipping and oil and gas.

Annual Wildlife Tourism Revenues

Annual revenues for a total of $19.4 billion from Wildlife Tourism, Gulf Region, 2011. Source: USFWS, 2012; Yoskowitz, 2011

Tourism jobs can account for 20-36 percent of all private jobs in coastal counties and parishes that are particularly dependent on wildlife activities. Those 53 counties and parishes have more than 25,000 tourism-related businesses and nearly 500,000 associated jobs.

Specifically, Gulf Coast wildlife tourism, which includes recreational fishing, hunting and wildlife watching (see Figure 8 below), cannot exist without a healthy ecosystem and currently:

  • Generates more than $19 billion in annual spending.
  • Attracts 20 million participants annually across the five Gulf Coast states.
  • Delivers $5.3 billion annually in federal, state and local tax revenues.

The Gulf-wide tax revenue generation by these three types of wildlife tourism are appear in Figure 12. In Louisiana, wildlife tourism generated over $200 million in 2012.

Wildlife
Watching*
Fishing Hunting
Total
$5.3 Billion
$2.0 B $2.2 B $1.2 B
Federal
$2.8 Billion
$972 M $1.2 B $628 M
State & Local
$2.5 Billion
$962 M $967 M $552 M

* Tax revenues from wildlife tourism in 2011. *Data from 2006. Source: Southwick Associates, 2012a, 2012b; USFWS, 2008.

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