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Birds to Give Wings to Rural Economies

Tourism Research Australia Data Captures Birders For First Time

866,000 Domestic Tourists went Birdwatching in 2019

More Overnight Domestic Tourists Birdwatched than Visited the Reef

As Australia grapples with what the future economy will be, a new income stream lies waiting to be realized.

Birdwatching, a popular activity for men, women and children, is one of the fastest growing pastimes in the world, worth over $41 billion USD in the US alone.

As reported by Greg Gliddon in The Ballarat Courier this week, Tourism Research Australia’s National Visitor Survey has included birdwatching data for the first time.

The total number of domestic birdwatching tourists was 866,000 year ending December 2019. More overnight tourists went birdwatching than visited the reef, a whopping 44% more to be precise.

Excluding international tourist data, domestic tourism alone was worth $80 billion to Australia year ending December 2019.

The number of domestic birdwatching tourists presents a huge opportunity to areas around regional Victoria endowed with stunning wetlands and native waterbirds, many unique to our country. Sadly many such areas, are financially stressed. The fact they are “duck shooting” areas for a handful of recreational native bird shooters hasn’t helped. Studies show most tourists will choose to go somewhere else, (where there is no shooting).

This tourism data is more strong evidence that change is in regional Victoria’s best interests. Duck shooting needs to cease, so birdwatching along with our native waterbirds and the rural towns blessed with them, can flourish.

When Covid restrictions ease, our regional economies will welcome tourism. There is little if any infrastructure needed to attract a steady portion of the birdwatching community. The assets are already here.

That is, if we look after them.

A new study published in the June 2020 edition of Biological Conservation warns that hunting is adversely affecting bird populations. The study focussed on migratory species however there is little reason to doubt the impacts would be any less dire for our native waterbirds or "game birds" for recreational shooters, whose numbers are already stressed.

Worthy of note is that whilst it is illegal to shoot migratory species in Victoria's recreational bird shoots, reports show they are collateral damage. (More on that soon.)

There's a better way for our waterways.

Picture by Eleanor Dilley, of the beautiful Chestnut Teal



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