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For some they are quite simply the most frightening thing imaginable in no small part thanks to a certain movie franchise from Steven Spielberg. For others they are the most mystifying and awe-inspiring creatures on earth. They're certainly a polarising subject but, according to experts, shark tourism is set to be on the rise.

Currently tourism centred around shark watching delivers around £206million a year, already a significant amount. The experts at Oryx – The International Journal of Conservation though have predicted this to more than double in the next 20 years. This has come to positive news to campaigners who are concerned with the plight of sharks fished for their meat. Currently around 38million are caught every year to service restaurants predominantly in China where Shark Fin soup is considered a delicacy. Tourism could soon be more lucrative than fishing which may encourage fishermen to ditch the nets in favour of creating tourism led businesses.

Across the world it is estimated that over half a million people a year enjoy shark watching across more than eight locations worldwide. The industry is said to keep around 10,000 people in work. The most popular sites have been South Africa, the US and Australia while smaller destinations are becoming increasingly popular. These include the Bahamas, the Cook Islands and the Maldives who have all created shark sanctuaries and banned shark fishing.

For those divers who want to come face to face with the ultimate shark – the Great White, there are several places that offer the greatest possibility of a close encounter of the shark kind. False Bay and Seal Island in South Africa play host to a large population of Great White and it is said that here you are most likely to see the awesome power of the beast as it dives fully out of the water to hunt prey. It's not for the faint-hearted but an experience never to be forgotten. Mexico, at the Isla de Guadalupe is another Great White hot spot, particularly at the end of summer and early autumn. The seas here are crystal clear offering unspoilt views of sharks in their natural habitat. Australia is home to a large population of Great Whites, particularly in the Neptune Island. Experts recommend making this trip during June, July or August to have the best chance of catching a glimpse of enormous females of up to around 20feet in length, keen to capitalise on the area's large seal population.

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