BirdLife celebrated World Tourism Day 2021

Posted on Wed, 29/09/2021

BirdLife celebrated World Tourism Day 2021


"Protection of birds is directly in the interest of people, and the expansion of bird watching tourism offers a substantial and enticing ecotourism model as well as an extra revenue stream for countries " According to experts and specialists in the fields of tourism and birds.

In a webinar hosted by Birdlife International on the occasion of World Tourism Day 2021 under this year theme: Tourism for Inclusive Growth:  Restarting birdwatching along the Rift Valley/Red Sea Flyway. The experts discussed how birdwatching as a niche tourism sector requires greater support and coordinated efforts to increase its visibility and help people in charge of it overcome obstacles.

The experts believe that countries in the Middle East and North Africa (including Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt) already provide good practices and experiences of how to develop, manage and promote wildlife tourism efforts that in particular advocate bird watching while simultaneously protecting nature and especially birds. The UNDP/GEF BirdLife International “Migratory Soaring Birds (MSB) Project is supporting initiative and activities on birdwatching in several countries to maximize benefits for local communities and nature within the framework of sustainable tourism development.

Significant social and economic effects have been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rift Valley/Red Sea countries have been affected when it comes to birdwatching. The most vulnerable groups, local service providers, have been the worst affected. The Webinar gave the chance to service providers along the Rift Valley/Red Sea Flyway to tell their individual stories of how they managed with COVID and how they see the way forward. 

Engineer Omaima Al-Majdouba representing the Ammon Applied University College of Hospitality and Tourism Education (AAUC) in Jordan, stated that the Corona pandemic impacted bird and nature watching, which put a hardship on the businesses that engaged in this kind of tourism.

In addition, she said that in the wake of the Corona pandemic, we must draw lessons, promote this kind of tourism, review sustainable tourism strategies, particularly those related to bird watching, develop activities for new visitors, adapt technology for ecotourism and bird watching, and review recent research. She asserted that this kind of tourism is well known in Jordan thanks to Birdlife's national partner in Jordan; Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), and that it deserves additional support.

According to Tarek Abdel Moneim, Director of Travco Tourism Company and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Tourism Offices in South Sinai from Egypt, the interest in bird watching in Egypt is not new, especially given that it is located along one of the most significant bird migration corridors in the world.

He added that birds have always represented freedom and peace, emphasizing that their significance is growing in Egypt as a result of their ties to diverse religions. Additionally, he said that although the tourism, private, and governmental sectors are interested in this kind of tourism, it still needs a variety of forms of support to grow to its full potential, as it should.

According to Andrea Bechara of Great Scape Tourism in Lebanon, initiatives for bird watching tourism have been created in a coordinated effort with civil society institutions, the private sector, and local inhabitants in the "Hammana" Hima region model, which has since been certified a safe heaven for birds.

He believes, the region has become a well-liked/popular bird watching tourist destination, which has benefited the neighbourhood by creating a significant number of stable jobs and bringing in a number of indirect advantages. Additionally, he said that the region has improved as a result of the locals' growing concern for wildlife preservation and the development of the tourism sector. It manufactures its own local products and sells them to tourists.