As the World struggles to get-a-grip on this coronavirus pandemic and attempts to discover remedies to repairing the impacts of the failing Global economy, many eyes fall on the urgent need to get tourism up and running again. Ecuador is no exception, with the caveat of having traditionally downplayed the importance of this sustainable industry compared to its love for extractivism. Avitourism—birding—actually holds an important key to reactivating the economy. In the face of suffering a nearly complete halt since the outbreak of COVID-19, its actors being grounded along with much of the rest of humanity at this point, several significant indicators tell us that birding is alive and well, although surely in a state of torpor. The number of new birders worldwide has apparently grown exponentially during this lockdown. Ecuador’s birding community is actually thriving; over 600 Ecuadorians (among over 50,000 birders around the world) took part in the Global Big Day count, which took place last May, and the true number of local birding enthusiasts is surely much higher.
Birders are a resilient and highly focused subculture of travelers and Ecuador is a powerful and competitive magnet. Most tourists do not necessarily have to visit any one destination over another and may be driven mainly by curiosity. International birders have priorities, and this country, among the top 4-5 on the Planet, is one of them. Birding is the perfect activity to get things started; it is the outdoor, out-of-the-way, pastime that demands small numbers of participants, that often return to a favored destination. Birders are excellent ambassadors that openly boast of their adventures to other birders; and with an audience of many millions around the world… what better way to advertise!
We anticipate that ‘things’ may begin to get back to a palpable normal by mid-2021 and all indications point to a booming 2022, if not much sooner. Birders are patient (to some degree) but definitely tenacious. The key factor to all of this is how our governments assure that they are honestly and seriously handling the safety and security needs of international and local travelers… everything depends on that.
Nature artist and birding guide