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Small Planet Consulting and the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism Announce Launch of Sustainable Birding Tourism Plan
Led by the Sustainable Tourism Unit and with the support of Small Planet Consulting, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism recently launched their first-ever birding tourism development plan.
Photo Credits: Bahama Mockingbird (left) by Carolyn Wardle; Bahama Parrot (right) by Rick Wright
The Bahamas depends heavily on its natural environment and has taken many steps to protect it. The country is one of the first in the world to establish a Sustainable Tourism Unit (STU), which initiated the development of the Bahamas Sustainable Tourism Development policy guidelines. The guidelines resulted in two Green Globe Environmental Achievements Awards from WTTC in 1996 and 1998. The Bahamas has long practiced sustainable management of public lands, including the designation of 26 national parks comprising over 700,000 acres of protected marine and land areas.
The Bahamas offers birdwatchers over 340 bird species, including about 110 species that breed in the country, over 170 migrant species and 50 rarely occurring vagrant species. There are 28 species that are not seen in the U.S., Canada or Europe. Most importantly, five of these species are endemic to the country – the Bahama Woodstar, Bahama Swallow, Bahama Warbler, Bahama Yellowthroat and Bahama Oriole.
Recognizing the potential of the commonwealth's birding tourism assets and of sustainable birding tourism development, in 2009 the Sustainable Tourism Unit collaborated with the Bahamas National Trust, the agency responsible for the protection of the country’s natural and historical resources, to develop a fully accredited birding tour guide course.
Following the completion of the birding tourism development plan, Small Planet assisted The Bahamas in implementing the first initiative of the plan. This was a birding product testing and familiarization trip for Dr. Rick Wright, a well-known U.S. birding tourism professional. Among other roles, Dr. Wright has served as the editor of the American Birding Association’s Winging It monthly newsletter and as department editor for their Birding magaz ine. He was formerly Managing Director of WINGS, one of the oldest and best known birdwatching tour companies in the world.
At the end of the product testing and familiarization trip, Dr. Wright confirmed that The Bahamas has everything it takes for a country to be a first-class birding destination and stated: "Everywhere you look there are birds, and birds in a wondrous combination of the familiar and the exotic and new. But best of all, there are birders to show them to you and to enjoy them with you. I can't imagine a better place to spend a couple of weeks than The Bahamas."Dr. Wright also stated that WINGS will be running a new birding tour to The Bahamas in November 2013, and he is writing an article about birding in The Bahamas for Winging It, to be published in 2013.
Along with the successful completion of the first trip, The Bahamas is now ramping up to implement additional familiarization trips and other key initiatives set out in the new birding tourism development plan. The Ministry of Tourism is actively seeking partnerships with international birding tour operators and media and welcomes all inquiries from interested partners.
For more information, please contact:
Small Planet Consulting
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Sustainable Tourism Unit
About Small Planet Consulting
Small Planet was founded in 2003, and provides sustainable tourism strategy, development and marketing advice, and support to governments, international development agencies, NGOs, indigenous groups, communities and the travel trade with market-responsive, best-practice oriented and practical sustainable tourism consulting approaches.
Small Planet's expertise in sustainable tourism development ranges from nature and ecotourism to culture, horticulture, birding and community-based tourism. Indigenous, or aboriginal, tourism education and consulting is a unique specialty of the firm. In addition, Small Planet has extensive experience in planning and marketing built tourism attractions, including museums, marine facilities, interpretive centres and cultural centres. Small Planet has assisted many destinations with wildlife and bird watching tourism product development and marketing, and is recognized for playing a key role in taking Guyana, SA, from a virtual unknown to one of the hottest destinations for birding tourism in the span of just a few years.