IDB Funds Belizean Bird Bonanza For Tour Guides
Belize is big for bird watchers, and now a new programme funded by The Inter-American Development Bank and implemented by the Belize Audubon Society and the BTB hopes to capitalize on that. The 2.6 million US dollar project will be shared between four countries: Belize, Bahamas, Guatemala and Paraguay. In Belize, funds will be used to introduce birding as a specialized field of study for tour guides. The programme was launched today at the Radisson, and Amanda Burgos-Acosta of the Audubon Society explains how it will work:...
Amanda Burgos, Executive Director - Belize Audubon Society
"We have very good birding tour guides. What this does in their cases is that they will then be certified and for new tour guides it's an opportunity because there will be a course in essence offered through the BTB to get a specialization."
John Beavers, Executive Director - Int'l Alliance Programme
"What we are trying to do is connect the global birding market to these important conservation areas to begin to drive the economic development of communities there, so there is that overlay of the economics, important areas for biodiversity like here in Cockscomb and Crooked Tree which are the two places that we are initially focusing on."
Anneke Jessen, Country Rep. - IDB
"I think in Belize in particular this project is very aligned with our general strategy of supporting the tourism sector. With this project we are trying to do two things; we are basically strengthening the capacity of local communities to attract tourists and to offer the services that tourists want when they come to watch birds and on the other hand we are trying to with national Audubon support to bring the market to Belize and other destinations through their magazines, through their big membership they have ways of attracting tourists to the country."
"In terms on residence species, there are incredible species here in Belize. You have the Harpy Eagle, you have Scarlet Macaws, and you have all kinds of incredible resident species that are here year round in Belize. Then Belize and much of Central America and southern Mexico are a part of that huge air-bridge that connects all of the migratory species between the North America and South America and so during the winter months you see a tremendous level of species here."
Belize, Guatemala, Paraguay and The Bahamas were selected by 'layering' globally significant Important Bird Areas for conservation over economic maps with priority being given to sites with basic tourism infrastructure and potential for growth.
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, 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, 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.”
The Belize Audubon Society wants Bird Based Tourism to thrive here, and help with conservation and economic development at the same time. They had a kick off meeting to discuss the subject. Belize has close to 600 species of birds, and there are many places around the country, as Chaa Creek recently wrote about, that are known for sightings.
"Kickoff meeting Bird based tourism as a conservation and economic development tool. Photography by: Dirk Francisco""