3 June 2014

Sixteen tour guides graduated from Jordan’s first Certified Bird-Watching Training Course today, enabling them to take bird enthusiasts to the Kingdom’s best bird-watching sites. The USAID Economic Growth Through Sustainable Tourism Project supported the training. 


“Jordan is an untapped market with great potential,” said USAID Mission Director Beth Paige.“The bird-watching course will create new jobs and provide a new source of income for existing guides.” 


The course is offered by Baraka Consulting for Sustainable Tourism Development under BirdLife International’s Migratory Soaring Birds project in cooperation with the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN).  It isendorsed by the Ministry of Tourism.


“Baraka and RSCN will continue training Jordanian guides to increase their knowledge and make tourists’ experiences more enjoyable,” said H.E. Khalid Irani, Chairman of Birdlife International.  “In addition, this initiative is contributing to conservation efforts to combat threats to Jordan’s birds.”


During training, the 16 guides were taken to seven leading bird-watching sites across Jordan by a team of experts.  “The course taught us what to expect, and how to plan and execute a bird-watching tour for enthusiasts,” said Nadia Al-Alul, a graduate of the course.


Bird watching is one of the world’s largest and most popular forms of nature travel. The availability of specialized guides in Jordan will allow tour operators to offer new programs for domestic and overseas visitors who want to go birding on the migratory route along the Great Rift Valley, which is home to 434 species of birds, 98 of them classified as rare.  


The accreditation of tour guides for bird watching could have a substantial payback.  In the United States alone, an estimated three million people take international bird-watching trips each year.  America’s 48-million birders spend over $82 billion annually on travel and equipment, according to industry estimates.