|From:||Phil Gregory <>|
|Date:||Sat, 22 Jan 2000 17:15:01 +1000|
Chris Dahlberg certainly started a productive thread with his comments
about birding tourism and the lack of official type help. I have to agree
with him about the latter, since we started here at Cassowary House in
Sept 98 the only official things we have been involved with all want
lots of money up-front e.g. tourist information web sites, publicity
at travel meetings etc. They appear to be commercial undertakings in their
own right and are naturally focussed on the big numbers and the mass markets
which are lumped under a very general eco-tourism heading. They have little
or no conception of the birding market, which in itself is a pretty broad
church ranging from hard core listers at one end of the spectrum to the
general naturalists and bird lovers at the other.
We here deliberately operate in a niche market, aiming specifically for birders and naturalists. We go deliberately along those lines as an alternative to mass market tourism, small and simple works best in this area, with the personal touch being essential.
I find that the government and tourist bodies have almost no conception of this niche market. The local operators here in Far North Queensland tend to find a synergy in working together on this small scale, as we know our market and understand it far more than the official tourism bodies. I doubt any of us feel they are of much use to us at present, but the birding dollar should not be underestimated.
I think it is a very good idea to publicize and make known that folks come for the bird-life, and that this generates money. We try this in PNG, paying landowners for access to sites and employing local guides, so there is a direct economic benefit to the community and the natural resources we are using have an immediate value. I have only to look back on what has happened in the states and the UK over the past two decades where birding has become almost a mass market phenomenon. It now has its own not so mini-economy of magazines, tours, birding equipment, books, places to stay etc. The technological changes over the past few years have also made a huge difference in getting information to people, all part of the huge growth of this particular interest.
Birding is widely reckoned to be the second most popular outdoors past-time in the states after fishing, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the UK has over one million members- these are incredible figures and show the strength of the pursuit. I believe that here we are in a similar process of growth, often linked in with environmental concerns, and these things will gradually trickle through to commercial, state and government bodies.
We obviously do it to make a living, but it is something that we love
doing. We are fortunate that we can make it work for us and can share our
experiences of some really marvellous places.
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