Designing a policy for the development of a birdwatching tourism site

Avitourism, or birdwatching tourism, is a growing phenomenon in the field of ecotourism, nature-based tourism or wildlife tourism and comprises the viewing of birds and their related behaviour in natural habitats. Our tourism expert Ben Wielenga is currently conducting research into birdwatching tourism. He initially proposes to study two important birdwatching sites in South and East Europe (Camargue and Danube Delta) in order to see in what way both destinations are developed for birdwatching tourism. This research aims to unravel the processes behind the development of a birdwatching site and to come up with detailed steps for stakeholders that are planning to construct a birdwatching site for tourism.

Defining birdwatching phenomenon

Birdwatching generally contributes positively to local economies in developing countries as it brings economic value and employment to local communities. Besides that, the niche sector stimulates conservation and development of natural areas. In addition to that, it can also have a positive impact on mental health. On the other hand, birdwatching tourism can have a negative impact on birds and ecosystems. However, in a society where pressure on people increases, where mental disorders are expanding, and where people are searching for unique and authentic experiences, the sector is perceived to be growing in the coming years.

Research into birdwatching tourism

As a result of the growing attention for birdwatching, research into this field is also increasing, mainly in topics such as

  • economic effects (economic impact studies);
  • social effects (such as shaping the birdwatcher and its characteristics, motivations, among others);
  • and environmental effects.

However, extensive research into birdwatching tourism is still to be developed. Research in what way birdwatching sites are developed, utilised and managed is hardly or not carried out. What are, for example, criteria for the development of birdwatching sites for tourism purposes, what stakeholders are involved in the management of such a site? These and numerous other questions appear in the topic of concern. Stakeholders who are planning to construct birdwatching sites for tourism purposes might be given very valuable information in this way.