October 01, 2015
The Ministry of Tourism (MOT), the National Audubon Society (NAS) and the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) recently held a special bird watching training workshop in Central Andros to help train persons looking to get involved in this new, lucrative niche market.
A $2.6 billion project funded by the Inter-American Development Bank has partnered with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Belize, The Bahamas, Guatemala and Paraguay to utilize the bird-watching market to create sustainable jobs in communities, while simultaneously protecting biodiversity and natural resources.
According to local tourism officials, The Bahamas has the perfect sites for bird watching to take advantage of the $82 billion industry globally, which is growing at approximately eight percent a year with an expenditure of $17 billion.
Director of Industry Training in the Ministry of Tourism Ian Ferguson said the MOT is extremely excited to be a part of the program.
"I believe the Ministry of Tourism and the Industry Training Department's role in particular is ultimately to prepare Bahamians and persons living in The Bahamas to be more equipped to serve and deliver impactful tours and experiences for our visitors," he said.
"We are always looking for new and expanding ways to enhance the product of The Bahamas in our vertical and emerging markets. Bird watching is a fairly new one for The Bahamas, though in some pockets in our society it has been done for some time. I believe on this large scale this is new and breaking ground for us.
"Our responsibility is to ensure that the quality is extremely high because the truth is in most of the emerging markets along the side of eco-tourism, the standards must be extremely high, because the caliber of persons coming to experience this kind of experience is one that is expecting a great deal of technical competence."
Ferguson said the program is ongoing, and all tour guides participating will be BahamaHost certified.
Additionally they will get an entrepreneurship certification.
"So many of them are going to want to become sole proprietors, and they are going to be serving the industry, and so if we can provide them with those basic and technical skills with some level of proficiency, we think we would have done our job well," he said.
Officials are expected to hold another workshop in Inagua.
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