I write, partly in response to a recent email mentioning the cost of birding
tours, and partly as a general topic.
Bird tour operators in Australia are generally experts in their field, with
many years of experience under their belts. They often run tours with a very
small number of participants, sometimes even private tours, at costs that
barely cover their expenses, let alone their time.
They do this because the market simply doesn't pay. As a result, many burn out
after years of doing what they love. Others find creative ways of maintaining
their tour business, which sometimes means small windows of availability, or
slow replies to enquiries.
We end up losing our best people from the industry. This is an industry that
should be able to employ people, contribute to local economies, and invest in
protecting the birds we all love.
The answer to this problem is for us to modify our view on what a bird tour is
worth. Is a day with a great birder worth the same as an engineers time? Or a
lawyer's? Doctor's? Manager's?
As a long term tour operator (wildlife, not bird specific) I known the costs. I
know that most small, genuine tour operators in Australia are excellent but
under-valued and under-paid.
A good bird tour operator gives you something that no lawyer, engineer or
manager can give you. That feeling of wonder, excitement, thrill at seeing a
wild creature you've never seen before. Do you remember that for the rest of
your life? Is that worth paying that guide a decent living wage? I think it is.
Sent from my Motorola RAZR™ M on the Telstra Next G™ Network
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