Uganda, with its diverse avian population boasting over 1,100 bird species, is setting ambitious goals to propel birding tourism into a major economic driver.
The recent three-day 2023 International Conference for Women Birders held in Kampala revealed the nation’s aspirations to generate a staggering $700 million (Shs2 trillion) annually from birding by 2030, with a targeted influx of at least 100,000 birders annually.
While Uganda possesses more than 50 percent of Africa’s bird species and 11 percent of the world’s total, the potential of this natural treasure trove remains largely untapped.
Unlocking the Economic Potential
During the conference, key stakeholders in Uganda’s tourism sector underscored the urgent need to exploit the economic opportunities presented by birding. Unlike countries with limited bird species, Uganda’s abundance of avian diversity positions it as a prime destination for global birders. Ms. Andrea Molina, a bird guide from Ecuador, South America, described Uganda as “outstanding with a variety of birds and different biodiversity elements,” emphasizing the untapped potential awaiting exploration.
Global Trends in Birding Tourism
Drawing inspiration from the success stories in the United States and the United Kingdom, where birding has experienced remarkable growth, speakers at the conference explored strategies to attract tourists and gain a share of the billions spent on birding trips. Ms. Maggie Kigozi, a business consultant, highlighted a 280 percent growth in birding in the US over the last decade, with more than 20 million citizens undertaking birding trips in recent years. The challenge now lies in translating these trends into increased tourism revenue for Uganda.
International Collaboration for Progress
The International Conference for Women Birders, attended by participants from various African countries, Europe, the US, South America, China, and Australia, was a collaborative effort by the Uganda Women Birders, Uganda Safari Guides Association, Bird Uganda Safaris, and other stakeholders. Supported by the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), the conference aimed to leverage Uganda’s existing birding potential to boost the tourism industry.
Empowering Women in Tourism
Ms. Sarah Kagingo, the PSFU vice chairperson, expressed commitment to channeling resources, in collaboration with development partners, towards empowering women in the tourism sector. Recognizing that birding is still a relatively untapped market in Uganda, she encouraged women to create niches in birding in Uganda, open businesses, and explore the myriad opportunities available. The PSFU pledged ongoing collaboration with the government and development partners to support women in tourism and help them take flight in the burgeoning birding industry.
Uganda’s vision to transform birding into a substantial economic contributor showcases the untapped potential of its avian richness. The International Conference for Women Birders served as a platform to galvanize efforts toward realizing this vision, with a focus on collaboration, empowerment, and strategic planning. As Uganda takes steps to harness the economic potential of its avian wonders, the world watches with anticipation, eager to witness the nation soar as a premier global birding destination.