Since Chris Dahlberg has put my name in print I
had better drag myself away from the annual accounts to say
I actually had a phone call about 4 years ago from someone in
the Australian Tourism Commmission office. He said - surprise, surprise - that
their overseas helplines were getting calls from the public asking about birding
opportunities in Australia, and they didn't know what to tell them. Would I make
up a sheet of infomation that they could duplicate and send out to enquirors.
Here is an opportunity, I thought - and suggested the ATC find a little money,
and I would produce for them a colourful brochure to give our overseas visitors
a start with their birding. I also emphasised the importance of this market, and
followed up with a couple of letters. Silence of course. I have given up with
the ATC and State Tourism, as they are irrelevant - which is rather tragic
really. I did get a referral once from State Tourism - it turned out the
person wanted a golfing holiday, and I was the closest they could
However, all is far from lost despite the irrelevance of our
tourism public servants ------
1) The internet is a wonderful way to communicate in a
narrowly-defined field throughout the world.
2) Other advertising can get to the burgeoning birding market
in a very focussed way.
3) We are the world's best birding destination (before you
gasp with disbelief I am including factors such as safety, political stability,
ease of travel, costs, great field guides etc etc)
4) Our 'outback hospitality' is improving by leaps and bounds.
Previously it was a term that implied sour glowers, filthy toilets and white
bread. Our facilities, even at roadhouses, are now reasonable - even in the
Northern Territory. And our food invariably brings surprised compliments from
overseas visitors. Non-white bread has even made it to Innamincka (although
still a bit of a rarity in Broken Hill).
5) Even local governments can be motivated to appreciate
birding tourism - notably the fine efforts of Russ and Jenny Watts with
the 'bird routes' they have had signposted
around Barraba + lots of support materials.
OK, there is still a lot of ignorance about birds and birding,
but it gets better. Maybe tour operators should all buy new Porsches to show
there is money in it, and then things will really change. If only I had time to
get to the showroom!
Back to the accounts. Richard