Birding tourism development in South Africa

Over the past decade BirdLife South Africa has been a global pioneer in the field of birdwatching tourism development. The organisation was responsible for developing the birding routes concept, a marketing platform emulated by a number of countries and tourism boards around the world, that packages information on birding sites, local bird guides, Birder Friendly Establishments and Birder Friendly Operators for the consumption of birdwatchers. The organisation engages with a wide range of stakeholders within the birdwatching tourism sector, including national and provincial government departments, district municipalities and tourism marketing boards, as well as private operators and tour companies in order to coordinate birdwatching tourism. The organisation actively promotes South Africa as a birding destination, marketing the country at various trade shows, including the British Bird Fair, and through the provision of information on online platforms such as this website. BirdLife South Africa’s expertise in this field has been recognised with the organisation being requested to provide consulting services to countries throughout Africa and as far flung as Mexico and Australia.

If undertaken with the principles of sustainable tourism in mind, birdwatching tourism has the ability to not only generate essential foreign currency earnings but also transfer benefits to local communities as well as most importantly birds and the habitats that they depend upon. BirdLife South Africa’s Bird Guide Training Programme provides training to Previously Disadvantaged Individuals and equips them with the skills to participate in the growing South African ecotourism sector. The organisation is an accredited Field Guides Association of Southern Africa training provider.

For more information about BirdLife South Africa’s Bird Guide Training Programme please contact Martin Taylor (martin.taylor@birdlife.org.za)