Some 13 million eco-tourists fueled the $2-billion industry in 2009.
The whale-watching industry generated $2 billion in revenue last year.
Whale tourism could add more than $400 million and 5,700 jobs to the global economy each year.
The findings boost arguments that the marine mammals are worth more alive than dead.
Whale-watching revenue topped $2 billion in 2009 and is set to grow 10 percent a year, according to a new study.
The findings boost arguments that the marine mammals are worth more alive than dead, the researchers said.
They also coincide with a decision by the 88-nation International Whaling Commission (IWC), meeting in Agadir, Morocco, to move forward with a "five year strategic plan" exploring the economic benefits and ecological risks of whale-watching.
Some 13 million eco-tourists in 2009 paid to see the animals in their natural element, generating $2.1 billion and employing 13,000 people across hundreds of coastal regions worldwide, the study found.
"This shows that we can have our whales and still benefit from them, without killing them," said co-author Rashid Sumaila, a researcher at the University of British Columbia.