Ornithology, a branch of zoology refers to the study of birds. It is derived from the Greek words “ornis” (bird) and “logos” (explanation). The World Tourism Organisation (WTO) defines Ornithological (bird watching) Tourism as the activity that involves moving from the place of origin to another place (specific destination) to observe and study the avifauna in their natural environment. Ornithology tourism is also called as birding tourism or avitourism. It refers to the leisure activity of bird watching to identify and study as many species of birds as possible. Ornithology tourism is becoming a huge trend and is a niche part in the ecotourism or nature tourism sector. Bird watchers travel to different places where there is abundant bird life and they are eager to study as many species of birds as possible in the best and cost-effective manner. According to the United Nations environment agency, ornithology tourism can offer considerable economic opportunities for countries around the world through sustainable tourism.
Ornithology Tourism: Factors Driving Growth
Initially considered as a pastime, today the term “bird watching” has gained considerable importance. There are many factors contributing to the growth of the ornithology tourism sector. The sector is primarily driven by the number of bird watchers and their growing interest in the profession. Also, a drop in the prices of bird watching equipment such as telescopes and binoculars and growing number of documentaries regarding bird life is increasing the awareness and giving a further kick to the liking of birders and increasing the number of cost-efficient techniques for filming the birds at a closer angle when in flight as well as when stationary. These factors add more fuel to the growth in this sector. Moreover, wildlife photography also has a hand in propelling the importance of bird watching, which has subsequently triggered the growth of ornithology tourism in many countries. Another aspect that drives the growth of this sector is the increasing consciousness of the benefits of indirect economy in many communities and countries, especially in the developing counties. According to UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), the rise in bird watching has impacted eco-tourism. The eco-tourism sector is growing at rapid pace owing to the subsequent growth in the bird watching or ornithology tourism sector. This sector is also influenced by the increasing knowledge guides who guide young birders and add more fuel to their passion. Also, government programmes to attract bird watchers and nature lovers from different regions drives the ornithology tourism sector.
Ornithology Tourism: Region-wise Exploration
Ornithology tourism has seen sufficient growth in the U.S in recent years. States such as Alaska, West Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming are the most prominent places for ornithology tourism. The rise of bird watching in the U.S is higher in the South, followed by the Mid-West and then by the North-East regions. According to United States Fish and Wildlife Survey, the amount spent by bird watchers annually in the United States alone is almost the same as the GDP of Costa Rica. Nearly 4 percent of jobs in Scotland are directly linked with wildlife tourism, according to the Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB). Europe is also likely to show growth in the ornithology tourism sector. The ornithology tourism sector is becoming sustainable and Spain and Portugal have been granted enough funding to carry out various projects and expand more into the Mediterranean region. Even South Africa seems to have good potential for ornithology tourism, which will contribute to the sustainable social and economic development of the country. This has ensured the participation of many stakeholders and other local communities in avitourism awareness programmes that chalk out the indirect impact of the ornithology tourism sector on the economic growth of the country.
There are many prospects in Poland as it is regarded as one of the best places for bird watching. A SWOT analysis was conducted in Poland, which threw light on the ornithology tourism landscape in Poland. According to the report, Poland has good potential opportunities for bird watchers. The report also offered recommendations regarding sustainable management of bird watching and how Poland can improve the attractiveness of ornithology tourism in the country. India is slowly catching up in the ornithology tourism sector. Many programmes are being undertaken to promote bird watching in India. There are good opportunities for the growth of the ornithology tourism sector in Pondicherry owing to Pondicherry’s cultural tourism attractions.
Companies Promoting Ornithology Tourism
Bird watching has been promoted by companies such as Victor Emmanuel Nature Tools, RockJumper, Sunbird, Birdquest and Field Guides. These companies host bird watching tours worldwide enabling bird watchers to explore their passion even in the most inaccessible areas.
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