At the 2012 WTA workshop Using Wildlife for Tourism, one of the discussions centred on how general tours and accommodation could value-add to their products by the (responsible) use of wildlife.
From the program:
Using wildlife to value-add to tours and accommodation
(Moderator Barry Davies, Gondwana Guides)
Some tour operations focus almost exclusively on wildlife (e.g. birdwatching tours, kayaking with dolphins, penguin parade).
Other more general tours and accommodations use one or more wildlife experiences to value-add (e.g. farmstays that promote watching for kangaroos coming to graze in the paddocks, B&Bs that advertise good birdwatching along the neighbouring creek, tours that call in to see a koala park or glow worm cave amidst other attractions.
Questions for discussion:
- What un-tapped potential do you see for more general tourism to use wildlife to add value to the experience?
- What pitfalls can you see associated with this? Is there for instance a danger of really poor interpretation by guides with little understanding of the animals they are pointing out?
- What can we do to remedy such problems?
- Any other issues that arise during discussion, and actions WTA could take to assist?
Some of the points raised during the discussion included:
- There is great potential for nonspecialist accommodations etc. to add value by promoting the local wildlife
- Information centres, Bed&Breakfasts, farmstays, hotels in country areas etc. can add value by providing bid lists and oher information to travellers
- WTA could assist by providing provide quality information or networking with locals
- Homestays and other accommodations could be encouraged to have indigenous plants in their grounds, which provides for a more authentic experience for visitors and also tends to attract birds and other wildlife
- Motel schedules are currently not geared to birdwatchers – in good birdwatching areas, more flexibility for breakfast times, (breaky at 3.00am, or a packed breakfast provided the night before) and late checkout times (allowing birders to have a siesta after their morning session before having to pack up and leave) could encourage more birders to use motels and hotels in these areas – some may then be willing to use such accommodation rather than camping. Take-away night-time dinners would also help those who want to watch birds at waterholes towards dusk or search for nocturnal wildlife species
- Hire car companies in the Northern Territory don’t allow the vehicles to be used before dawn or after dusk, but this prevents some of the best wildlife viewing. A company which allowed extended hours for wildlife-viewing would be appreciated by many.
- Tourism doesn’t always need the big and spectacular. ” Tourism with hand lenses” was an initiative in South Amercia to view invertebrates in a “miniature forest”
- Great Barrier Reef – Eye On the Reef. Tour operstors report sightings which are sent to marine research agencies,, Many tour operators have science degrees, but want to be tour operators, and can still indulge in science and keep in touch with the latest research through this network, and it also value-adds to the tour, as many tourists want to know more about the animals they are seeing, get to meet scientists, and see that the tour they are supporting is contributing to scientific knowledge and conservation management
- Maps to show where animals have recently been seen can arouse interest and assist birdwatchers and other wildlife-seekers. Most rest camps in Kruger National Park (South Africa) have noticeboards where guests and staff record where they have seen various species over the past few days, and there is much potential for this throughout Australia
- Web-cams to record animals can be of great interest to those already seeking wildlife and can arouse the interest of others – e.g a web cam at an osprey nest in Scotland, webcams of waterholes in Kruger National Park. There are a few in Australia – could be more.
- Perhaps a webcam at an outback waterhole could be displayed while motel/hotel guests who didn’t want to rise early enough to travel to the sites can have breakfast while watching
- We need to change attitudes of grant-providers
- Local media are hungry for good info about wildlife stories
- As visitors land in the airport, they could be welcomed with pictures and sounds of native birds
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