Ecotourism and Birding
Title: Ecotourism and Birding
Discussion Group Leaders: Jeanne Dubi, Karen Fraley, and John McCarthy
Definition of Ecotourism: built to be sustainable; what you take in you take out; based on interpretive education; gives back to the local community; makes local people more inclined to protect local places; becomes a social and economic driver; includes environment, local culture, history and archaeology.
- Tourism is not just for visitors. Local residents are also an important audience for ecotourism.
- Sarasota and Manatee have abundant assets for ecotourism: Mote, Myakka, Selby Gardens, South Lido mangrove tunnels, Emerson Point, Spanish Point, Crowley Museum, Cortez Village, Celery Fields and more.
- There is a concern that ecotourism sites can suffer from overuse. At the Celery Fields, garbage, pet waste, and pets disturbing birds are problems that need management. The birding area of the Celery Fields is fenced to provide some protection for birds.
- Not all natural areas need to be open to tourism. Some areas should not be accessible. However, if clearly marked trails are
absent, people will often make their own trails.
- Providing spaces for large events is problematic. Large events take a toll on natural areas.
- Ecotourism markets are preparing for future retirees who are more athletic and seeking biking, hiking, and kayaking opportunities.
- Along the Legacy Trail and at Robinson Preserve, speed bikers can conflict with walkers and casual bikers. Conflicts between users need management.
- Are fishing guides part of the ecotourism market? They should be, but are not currently considered part of the ecotourism circle.
- Both counties offer many free ecotours and nature walks. Private ecotours compete with free tours. As county budgets shrink, counties could consider contracting with private ecotour guides to lead free walks on county lands.
- A future trend for ecotourism may be traveling to volunteer with citizen science or land management initiatives. RoadsScholar (formerly Elder Hostel) now features travel to help with native plant restoration projects. EarthWatch is another model for this type of tourism.
- The number of birders in the U.S. is greater than the number of golfers. Birders spend more money on their travels than other types of tourists.