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Taiwan gives birding a big boost in SVG

Taiwan gives birding a big boost in  SVG

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by J. Soso-Vincent 18.APR.08

‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’. The pastime of birding (bird watching) turns this saying around somewhat – keen birders value birds in their natural habitat more than in captivity.{{more}}

Having arrived in SVG on April 9th to explore and promote ‘birding’ eco-tourism, the Young Island Resort was the venue for the farewell lunch for a Taiwanese Ecotourism research team, hosted by Ambassador Jack Cheng, on Sunday. The team also took the opportunity to announce plans to publish a book within two months, with local assistance, on the bird species found here, as well as set up a website on birding in SVG; which would be linked to the Taiwanese birding website (www.birdinginTaiwan.org).

Team leader Chiu-Chin Tien said that, according to a survey conducted by the World Bank, Eco-tourism is the most advancing and profitable business at this time. She also deemed it to be a sustainable venture. “…as long as you have a proper, basic infrastructure, then you do not need the government to invest a lot of money to develop eco-tourism”, she stated. Tien is of the opinion that eco-tourism enables more people from a wider range of economic standing to reap the benefits. She also related that, in her experience, seeing the birds when you visit a destination makes that place more special. “It makes the memory more precious!”

Team member Simon Liao gave hope to eco-tourism development in SVG. He explained that up to three years ago, nobody was offering eco-tours in Taiwan. Today, eco-tourism is a profitable business there, he said. He also related that with four endemic and 15 sub-endemic bird species, St. Vincent has sufficient bird life to sustain the interest of eco-tourists.

Further confidence in this venture was provided by Executive Officer of the International Taiwan Birding Association Jo-Ann MacKenzie. She explained that the ‘baby boomer’ generation have reached retirement age and, having previously held high-powered executive jobs, they now have a great deal of money at their disposal. Not content to spend their retirement playing golf and swimming, they’re looking for new challenges.

Birding fills that niche, and they (eco-tourists) want safe, comfortable places to go birding for exotic species. MacKenzie was happy to declare that “The Caribbean islands, and your country in particular, fill that need very well”.

Forestry Officer Glenroy Gaymes and Permanent Secretary (ag) in the Ministry of Tourism Laverne Grant both expressed their deep appreciation and gratitude to the Government of Taiwan and the research team. Gaymes also stated that whilst the emphasis was on birds, he believes that SVG has a lot more to offer for eco-tourists from around the globe. These include tropical rain forests and endemic reptile and amphibian species.

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