FORMAL and informal deliberations on the avitourism niche potential have been recently further perpetuated by the draft on avitourism strategy by the national Department of Tourism which seeks to uncover the concealed niche prospects.
Not much has been done in unleashing the potential carried by avitourism. Global perceptions of South Africa being the mecca of wildlife and adventure has seen a lot of wildlife tourism nodes taking a strategic position.
Unlike most of our tourism sub-sectors that are profoundly reliant on large visitor numbers during high peak season(s) for significant economic earnings, the avitourism niche entails a relatively smaller market but substantial consumption by the older to retired market with healthier buying power. The key benefit to exploiting this sub-sector is its lack of seasonality.
The speciality nature of the avitourism niche leads to this market visiting more than one avitourism node in a destination per visit, thereby indirectly ensuring a spread of economic beneficiation.
Guided birding tour operators form an integral part of the positive direction the avitourism would take. These are mostly comprised birding clubs and nature conservation institutions.
Due to their remoteness in nature, birding routes are never without security challenges. As part of developing a successful avitourism industry, appropriately coordinated safety and security efforts need to be applied.
For this to be thriving industry, there's a dire need to invest in avitourism and avitourism-related infrastructure, and marketing strategies. The first point of departure would be to deal with the lack of political will and lack of meaningful community participation in tourism.
Ayanda Sondara, East London