On 29 September the Regional Flyway Facility – RFF of the Migratory Birds Project organized a webinar on “the future of Birdwatching”. Osama Al-Nouri, the MSB project coordinator, facilitated the webinar. The Webinar aimed to promote birdwatching in the Rift Valley/Red Sea flyway discussing the impact of COVID-19 on it with expert speakers from Jordan, Egypt, UK and Lebanon.
Tala Almomani, the Regional Expert from Jordan defined birdwatching as is a form of wildlife observation in which the observation of birds is a recreational activity. She clarified the main purpose of the Birdwatching tourism or Avitourism is to view birds in their natural habitat, and clarified that pre-COVID-19, Birdwatching was one of the fastest growing outdoor activities as many reports showed.
While Robert Sheldon the Chairman of OSME from UK, explained what are the orientations of international birders, and how the birders can have a specialist tour, what is the destination they would chose, and the key considerations the birders need, like the accommodations, equipment, the vehicles and the local guide.
Moreover, Louis Junior Saad, tours coordinator in Great Escape; an eco-tour operators from Lebanon, highlighted the birdwatching against the conservation and socio-economic background. He elucidated the important bird and biodiversity areas, IBA’s and Himas. Louis explained the activities promoted, the COVID-19 impacts and the adaptation plan.
Finally, Amany Abbas; Birdwatching Guide from Egypt, clarified the importance of birds for Egypt and to humanity, also she stated what essential skills for birdwatching guides are. Amany elaborated on the successful tourism programs of the national MSB project in Egypt.
An active group discussion with important input and clarification followed the presentations.
The Red Sea/Rift Valley flyway is the second most important flyway in the world with around 2 million soaring birds migrating twice a year between their wintering grounds in Africa and breeding grounds in Europe and Central Asia through this corridor that include many bottleneck sites ideal of birdwatching across the countries around the flyway, as they migrate.