Experts Seek To Unify Good Practices for Sustainable Bird Watching In Costa Rica

    Tourism segment represents a high economic income for the country

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    The more than 900 species that have been identified in the national territory and its great biodiversity make Costa Rica one of the most visited destinations in the world by tourists specialized in bird watching.

    And it is that, for 2019, the country registered the entry of 12.3% of tourists with special equipment for this activity, which represents more than 200,000 visitors who spend an average of $3,200 during their stay, according to data from the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT).

    Given the panorama of a growing tourism market, the National Birdwatching Board decided to create the Manual of Good Practices for the Birdwatching segment in the country, which aims to standardize the activities that take place within this industry.

    The manual, aimed at specialized guides, receptive tour operators, ecotourism establishments, birdlife enthusiasts and any group or institution interested in this segment, also aims to reduce possible impacts on the country’s biodiversity.

    Sergio Arias, director of the National Birdwatching Board, explained that the guide consists of 84 guidelines for the sector and is divided into three specific units: birds and their natural environment, human beings and their intervention in the natural environment of birds and quality of service.

    Base guide

    “This is a base guide, it is not written in stone, possibly in one or two years we will make updates to it, but it is already establishing a series of parameters for those who work and want to develop the segment, do so in an orderly manner, and under criteria of sustainability that are the cover letter and how we work ecotourism in this country”, explained Araya.

    In addition, he considers that despite the fact that Costa Rica is a model and reference for bird tourism in the world, it is necessary to articulate the different actors and elements that make up this niche of specialized tourism.

    “It is useless to make efforts to promote and develop a product specialized in bird watching if we are not providing quality and international standards according to the needs of the market segment,” added Arias.

    Recommendations on the use of trails, complementary feeding stations or feeders, photo activity and use of sound reproduction to attract birds, are some highlights in the first two chapters of the manual.

    While the third chapter covers guidelines on guidance, recommended clothing, operation of birdwatching activities and good practices so that establishments are friendly to observers, but also to birds.

    Verification stamp

    As part of the efforts to promote this tourism segment, the Birdwatching Board hopes to develop a verification stamp for companies that subscribe to the manual, update the profile of bird watchers and include new destinations and observation circuits in various communities from the country.

    The Board has identified at least 30 exclusive tour operators in the bird tourism segment and about 50 that sell bird tourism trips within their mixed offer, that is, at least 80 operators that market the activity.

    The bird watching and photography segment generates around 2,200 direct jobs and 10,000 indirect jobs for Costa Rica, representing an income to the country of more than $800 million in consumption of services linked to the activity, according to data from the Avitourism Table.

    The manual of good practices for birdwatching activities in Costa Rica establishes 84 guidelines to standardize technical criteria, which are divided into units that cover different topics of tourism activity:

    • Respect for birds, courtship, nesting
    • Trail use
    • Supplementary feeding
    • Photography
    • Playing sounds
    • Quality of services
    • Guided
    • Outfit
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