Krisztian Vas Dr. Paul Eagles firstname.lastname@example.org@uwaterloo.ca email@example.com@uwaterloo.ca Masters Candidate Professor Tourism Policy & Planning Department of Recreation & Leisure Studies Faculty of EnvironmentDirector, Department of GeographyMaster’s Program in Tourism Policy & PlanningUniversity of Waterloo
Presentation Outline Introduction Background Research Gaps Research Questions Literature Review Methodology Results Implications and Future Direction
Introduction Tourism is a vital part of the world economy that continues to grow. It is estimated to grow 3-4% annually and reach 1.5 billion international arrivals by 2020 (WTO, 2010). Ecotourism is rising in popularity and is one of the fastest growing subsectors of tourism (TIES, 2010). Wildlife tourism is also on the rise, especially non- consumptive forms (Newsome, Dowling & Moore, 2005). Bird-watching is also fast growing and thought to be the dominant activity in wildlife tourism (Blondel, 2004). As a result bird-watching tourism ventures (birding trails & birding festivals) can significantly boost regional tourism development and regional economies (Colby & Smith-Incer, 2005 & McKay, 2007).
Case Study Area: Counties of Essex and Chatham Kent
Case Study Background Economy mostly reliant on agriculture and manufacturing industry. Area hard hit by recent economic turndown, especially by the collapse and restructuring of the automobile industry (i.e. Chrysler, GM). Area prone to flooding due to being below lake level. Agriculture often suffers and needs government subsidies to survive.
Case Study Background Mature birding destination, but declining birder numbers over recent years. Point Pelee National Park and the surrounding area is very unique area within Canada, due to: Unique flora and fauna The most Northern Extension of the Carolinian Forest Existence of over 400 species of birds Many endemic and rare species nowhere else found in Canada.
Research Gaps There are several well known birding trails within North America such as: North Carolina Birding Trail Great Florida Birding Trail Maine Birding Trail Great Texas Birding Trail However, none describe or make clear how they were planned or what criteria was used to decide how and where to implement such trails. There is a lack of academic insight regarding the planning, implementation and management procedures of birding trails. Lastly, none of the trails provide clear figures that can demonstrate the success of the trail, such as a before and after comparison of visitor numbers and revenues.
Research Questions 1) How can birding tourism substitute the existing local economy and develop more environmentally sustainable industries? 2) How would a birding trail fit in with linking different tourism and business elements together for economic growth? 3) How should a birding trail be planned, including: 1) What are the criteria for selecting bird-watching sites for tourism purposes? 2) What are the components of a birding trail? 3) What is involved in the planning of a birding trail? 4) What are the necessary elements of a product club as one element of a birding trail? 5) How will the birding trail product club be managed, monitored and evaluated to ensure success?
Literature Review Over 250 books, scientific journals and various academic documents were reviewed on the topics of : Birding Tourism Bird-watching Wildlife Tourism Birding Trails Tourism Trails Ecotourism Planning Local Economic Development Tourism Management Destination Marketing
Methodology Four separate steps to methodology: 1) Examination and Analysis of Birding Blogs 2) Interviewing Existing Tourism Trails 3) Choosing a Case Study Location 4) Planning and Implementation
Examination & Analysis of Birding Blogs Qualitative and Quantitative Approach To find out what birders look for on their trips. Examination of 25 blogs from 5 different sites. Qualitative: Content Analysis Initial coding, axial coding, theme categorization, forming answers. Quantitative: Word Frequencies Using software scanned over 50 key works for # of times it appeared in text, then combined them into categories and themes.
Findings of Blog Analysis Bird-watching tourism is much more complicated then initially thought. There are different needs for different birdwatchers, often dictated by the characteristics of the birder (i.e. Individual vs. Family Birders) This study found that approximately 30 percent of bird-watching was done as a family activity. About 70 percent of birdwatchers never really travel far for bird-watching, such as out of state or province. Study also discovered previously overlooked aspects of birding tourism, such as the roles of price and affordability and perceived value.
Hierarchical Theory of Bird-Watching Tourism Components Expert Birdwatcher Novice Birdwatcher Family Birdwatcher Individual Birdwatcher
Interviewing Existing Tourism Trails 5 Existing Birding trails were interviewed 5 other types of tourism trails were interviewed, including winery trails, culinary trails and cultural tourism trails. They were all administered the following 6 open ended questions regarding trail design, planning and management.
Administered Interview Questions 1.) What specific criteria or methodology was used in the selection of sites? 2.) What and who was involved with the planning of the trail, including which stakeholders? 3.) What is included in the trail beyond the sites such as Accommodation providers Transportation routes and companies Restaurants and food providers Waste management Specialized stores Guides or interpreters Internet access 4.) Who or what organization is involved with the management and oversight of trail operations? 5.) What tools are used to evaluate the trail and sites, how and what exactly is evaluated?
Results of Interviews Site Selection Criteria: Sites are usually selected based on popularity, stakeholder or community interests and appearance; rather than form, function, practicality or accessibility. Often times most communities or sites want to me included in the trail regardless if they are really suited for the purpose of the trail. Some trails, such as the Great Florida Birding Trail to use a 7 step criteria system to access sites, which include:
Results of Interview Continued I. Ecological significance II. Birding characteristics III. Site resilience IV. Physical and legal access V. Economic significance VI. Maintenance support VII. Educational significance.
Results of Interview Continued Most trails are planned through a partnership of stakeholders, which usually include: I. State or provincial tourism boards II. Regional or county tourism boards III. National, state or provincial parks IV. Federal agencies, i.e. U.S. Fish & Wildlife V. Special interest groups-birders, winery VI. Conservation organizations VII. Local Businesses
Results of Interview Continued The same entities are usually entrusted in managing such tourism trails, however few have a formal or regularly occurring monitoring system that can illustrate trail performance, i.e. annual or semi-annual monitoring. Most trails have a website and provide free maps and directions, however few are directly linked with hotels, restaurants, guiding services or transportation companies. Some have gift stores and merchandise for sale.
Conclusion to Interviews Very few trails are developed and managed from a tourism planners perspective and none utilize formal planning knowledge or principles; rather it is often wildlife biologists, conservation agencies or state or provincial agencies or enthusiasts who come up with the idea and plan such trails. If and when tourism professional or consultants are hired to develop such trails, they very much treat the project as a business and are reluctant to disclose how they planned the trail.
Planning and Implementation Formulation of an Advisory Committee to assist in the planning and implementation process, with the following stakeholders: Tourism Windsor, Essex, Pelee Island Tourism Chatham-Kent Essex Region Conservation Authority Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority Point Pelee National Park Rondeau Provincial Park Ontario Field Ornithologists Essex County Field Naturalists’ Club Sydenham Field Naturalists Point Pelee Tours (or other guide companies) Local Hospitality Expert Local Transportation and Infrastructure Expert Internet, GIS and Electronic Information Expert
Planning and Implementation Cont’d Advisory Committee will assist with the following decisions: 1) Size and scope of the activity 2) Selection of sites 3) Choosing accessory institutions to be associated with the birding trail, such as accommodation providers, transportation routes, transportation companies, restaurant and food provision facilities, and specialist stores. 4) Developing a Product club organization to oversee trail, including issues of structure and funding apparatus. 5) Marketing of the Product Club, through such things as a trail map, a web site, a birding trail passport, and a communication hub. 6) the issue of management, evaluation and monitoring the operation of the trail and product club.
References List of references available upon request.