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Jun 17, 2014

Audubon hosts kickoff meeting to develop bird-based tourism

You’ve heard about eco-tourism, sex tourism, cruise tourism, overnight tourism…even medical tourism. What about bird-based tourism? The International Audubon Organization is meeting with both private and public sector partners to work on a plan to strengthen bird-based tourism as a conservation and sustainable development tool in the country. The two point six million dollar project is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank and is being implemented in four countries: Belize, Paraguay, Guatemala and the Bahamas. All four countries are expected to put in place capacity building measures and resources to ensure the viability of the industry. The goal is to tap into the tourist population that is birders and to essentially promote the country as a birding destination to the forty plus million birding fanatics. News Five caught up with the organizers at the kickoff meeting held today at the Radisson Fort George.

 

John Beavers

John Beavers, VP/Executive Director, Audubon Int’l Alliances Program

“The idea is that since the global birding market is so strong and countries like Belize have a lot to offer in terms of providing a great product to the birding market that we want to begin to develop a project that did really three things. One is it connects that global birding market; two, that Belize and the other three countries that we are working on that we begin to build that capacity to cater to the birding market because it is a very specialized group. Birders have high expectations in terms of things like the guiding; high expectations in terms of being able to get to the birds and seeing the circuits in places like Belize. And third, Belize Audubon has been working for decades in conservation in the country and they have been doing a great job.”

 

Amanda Burgos

Amanda Burgos, Executive Director, Belize Audubon Society

“Belize Audubon has taken a unique approach in that we are working with B.T.B. and what this is going to be is a specialization for tour guides that they can get. We are going to help develop a curriculum and B.T.B. will be in charge of quality assurance and the testing protest. But ultimately, it is going to have bigger gains in the Belize, hopefully through that nationalization of the process. The second objective is marketing; benefiting from Audubon Magazine who has a subscription to four million people. Birding in the US alone is a multimillion dollar industry of which we are hoping to tap in to through all of this. The marketing will be for all four countries, but we always know that Belize has its special attractions and proximity and the short flights are hopefully gonna bring more attractions to it. And then we also have education, community outreach and degree of knowledge sharing. So those are the other objectives. We are hoping for people to see the economic value of conservation; the idea that birding is a subdivision within the tourism industry that we could really tap into; that we have an abundance in Belize and it is really an opportunity to diversify and bring more products to the Belizean tourist industry.”

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