In 2016, Bird Uganda Safaris Ltd started the annual African Birding expo as one of the interventions to market and promote birding as well as building a strong and recognizable destination brand that attracts domestic and international bird watchers in Africa.
Today Friday 10, the annual Expo started with a business forum with presentations from different key speakers competition and awards ceremony at Uganda Museum.
The three day even in partnership with PSFU, MasterCard Foundation, UWA, UTB and the Ministry of Tourism is clustered in three different areas among which according to Edmand Aryampika, the Assistant African Birding Expo Administrator include birding and photography clinics at Botanical Gardens Entebbe on 11th and the final birding event at Mpanga forest in Mpigi on 12 December.
Aryampika notes that the three days event themed “Intra-African birding a Path to Tourism Resilience and Economic Recovery” has attracted a number of bird watchers from USA and UK, travel writers from USA, United Kingdom, tour operators within Uganda; safari lodges owners and other players in the tourism sector across the world
“Our main essence is to intensify focus on Africa as a premium destination for bird watching,” he said.
He further said that Bird watching is one the fastest growing tourism niche business across the globe thus justifying the need for Uganda to put more emphasis on this nature-based tourism given the fact that the country is a home destination for various bird species.
“Bird watchers are one of the biggest spenders in travel and tourism sector with an average spending of over $7000 for an average of 21 days making bird watching a very profitable venture with great multiplier effect to the African economies like Uganda,” he said.
He added that Bird watching has a great potential to diversify Uganda’s tourism that narrowly depends on gorilla tracking since birds are found everywhere in the country.
Uganda has over 1084 species of birds with regional, Albertine, habitat one national, endemics like Fox’s Weaver and rare birds that bird watchers wish to add to their life bird checklists.
Meanwhile, Dorcus Rukundo Twesigwomwe, a Uganda Wildlife Authority Bussines Developer emphasised the need for effective promotion of Birding which include conservation of habitats.
“We’ve been so reluctant about birding and leaving it to only foreigners, it’s high time we also embrace birding at local level as it also brings in employment since it doesn’t call for huge start up costs like purchase of land,” she said.
In the context of boasting the birding sector and the entire tourism industry, PSFU Executive Director Steven Asiimwe appealed to government to open up the night economy urging that many tourism activities which include watching of some birds and other wildlife can only be done at night thus opening up the night economy being a good opportunity for the tourism sector.
“The night economy is logistical, financial and healthy and without it the inflow of tourists is hindered and with its opening, we shall see a shift in birding in specific and tourism in general since most of the tourists arrive in evening and in nights,” he said.