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Bahamas ‘Put On Map For Birding Tourism’

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

The Bahamas is being “put on the map” for bird tourism, and is poised to tap into a multi-billion dollar niche market through the arrival of its first nine advanced bird guides.

The Ministry of Tourism, in conjunction with the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) and the National Audubon Society, launched the bird-based tourism initiative last week with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Matthew Jeffery, director of the National Audubon Society, said: “I think that the Bahamas has natural resources that are underutilised; it’s the birds. They are worth something economically. The Bahamas is being put on the map for bird tourism. It was not there initially.”

Bird-watching is a fast-growing, high-value outdoor activity. The bird-based tourism initiative has been training tour guides from several islands over the past two years, with the goal of creating sustainable jobs that help to protect Bahamian bio-diversity and natural habitats.

So far, 58 Bahamians have trained as bird field guides through the programme, with nine having attained advanced qualifications. They can lead specialised tours to any island in the Bahamas. The initiative has also developed marketing and business support materials for the tour guides.

Ellison ‘Tommy’ Thompson, deputy director-general at the Ministry of Tourism, said the industry could become a lucrative component of the overall tourism product.

“Sun, sand and sea is what people come for, but there is stiff competition with that. We have to offer more,” Mr Thompson added:

“We concentrate so much on Nassau/Paradise Island that we leave so much of this country out of what we are doing. It’s important that we promote all of the islands of the Bahamas.”

Mr Thompson said the Family Islands are more readily accessible through the revamped booking engine on Bahamas.com, so it was important that high quality and service standards were maintained.

Comments

banker 3 years, 1 month ago

Oh please. What happened to religious tourism, medical tourism and eco-tourism initiatives? This is another bird-brained scheme.

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ohdrap4 3 years, 1 month ago

does this include shooting edison key's pheasants?

but i can see the plans: a party of more than one bird watcher has to hire a guide for 600 per day.

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 1 month ago

Bird-watching is as lucrative as bone-fishing ............. it is not that the enterprise is not lucrative, but who gets to control the Bahamian industry on the ground ....... the same way that foreigners come here and own the bone-fish lodges, the same will be for the bird lodges

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The_Oracle 3 years, 1 month ago

You are right sheeprunner, however the only bird most Bahamians are familiar with and can identify is KFC or the doves and Pigeons that pick on the bones we throw out the car windows! Funny you use the term "own" as opposed to "Invest in" like they just miraculously acquire land and buildings, boats with good looks.

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 1 month ago

Well Oracle .......... travel throughout our Out Islands and survey the facilities that offer bone-fish guiding services and make a tally of how many are 100% Bahamian vs foreign owned/controlled with a "front man" operator ........ do you think that the birding services will be any better????? ........ for every one Bahamian there will probably be 5 foreign expert bird guides ...... Can you imagine Bahamians trampling through the bush looking for birds????????????? BOL

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