Researchers estimated up to 25 percent or $1,375 of each visitor's expenditure in north Queensland went towards the opportunity to see a shark. Divers mostly want to see hammerhead sharks, followed by whale sharks and tiger sharks, a study found.
"Shark tourism is a growing phenomenon but unfortunately shark populations are not," said WWF- Australia's Reef to Rangelands Policy Manager Nick Heath.
WWF says more than 70,000 sharks are taken by fishermen each year in waters off north Queensland, many inside the Great Barrier Reef area.
A recent James Cook University study funded by the Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility found potential shark sightings to be a major drawcard to the diving sector, with tourists willing to pay thousands of dollars to see a shark in its natural environment.
The study found the average liveaboard dive passenger spent at least $5,000 while in the Cairns / Port Douglas area of Far North Queensland, with many attracted to the region by the opportunity to view sharks in the wild.
"A guaranteed shark sighting is worth its weight in gold to the tourism industry."