At the southern end of Cebu is a town named Oslob which has become a tourist attraction due to its whale sharks. In the morning, guests board small boats and are rowed out a couple hundred feet from shore. The boats form a line and whale sharks swim next to the boats to be fed.. Whale sharks are harmless to humans as they only eat very tiny creatures. Guests can get into the water with the whale sharks provided they don’t touch them. Underwater cameras are capable of capturing some amazing selfies with the whale sharks. Later in the day the whale sharks swim elsewhere to parts unknown and return the next morning.
Oslob has grown due to the financial impact of the whale sharks. It’s not cheap to get into the boats. Years ago when I went in the boat, it cost 500 pesos. I think it’s more today. As you would expect, all that outside money flowing into the town has had an impact, and that includes a few of my wife’s relatives.
One of my wife’s cousins has profited from the whale sharks by getting into the transportation business. She now has several vans that mostly transport tourists from Cebu City to Oslob and back. It’s roughly a 4-hour trip each way. It must be profitable because she started with one vehicle and now has several.
She has also invested in Oslob real estate, building a new house that is available for rent.
One way you can tell if a small town is growing financially is by the presence of a major business chain. Recent years saw a 7-11 store open in Oslob. I suppose that sounds funny to people living in a big city, but it is kind of a big deal in a small town.
Oslob and the surrounding area have seen more hotels/resorts and restaurants built as many tourists decide they will stay awhile and visit other local sites. Our teenage band has benefited as one of the restaurants has started to hire them on Friday nights. They don’t get too many foreigners at their Saturday night gigs in our town, and they really enjoy Friday nights in Oslob with a more international crowd. The tourists are generally in a party mood as they are on holiday/vacation.
It almost seems like half the town of Oslob now derives a financial benefit from tourists viewing the whale sharks. A lot of capital has been spent and there are probably quite a few loans involved. Of course, several people have suggested that my wife and I should also try and start a business. To all those people that seem to think it’s a good idea to create a business plan that is dependent on a few uncontrollable ocean creatures, I respectfully disagree. Someday the whale sharks may simply no longer show up. Then what? You can’t haul a whale shark into court and claim a breach of contract. Also, the deal between Oslob and the whale sharks was probably verbal and not in writing, thus difficult to enforce in a court of law.
If any of the Oslob whale sharks are reading this, I live in a town about 15 km away from Oslob. That should be a short swim for a whale shark. Maybe we can make a better deal. How about tastier shrimp? Just whistle once for yes and twice for no.