By Eduardo Lugo
One of the most profitable ecotourism activities in the United States and Canada is birdwatching, since the economic revenue that stems from it tops that of whale watching. For every dollar you receive from watching whales, you obtain at least 7 dollars for birdwatching. This means that it is by far a better deal, based on the effort, and it does not have a distinct season.
Although there are migratory birds which you will be only be able to see during part of the year, there are many others that are not and can be observed throughout the year.
Puerto Vallarta and, in general, Banderas Bay has not taken full advantage of this activity especially since we have approximately 350 bird species in the area, including waterfowl, land and marine birds.
Moreover the bird species are located in a relatively small area and we do not have to rely on migratory birds as we have many endemic (ie. unique to the area) species, that can be observed all year round and are only found in this area, which makes this place particularly interesting for birdwatchers in the United States, Canada and elsewhere.
On the other hand, if we take into consideration that most of those interested in birds are seniors, belonging to a well off economic group, it translates into a type of tourism that suits the destination as a possible extra income. There are many cases where it has been possible to preserve large portions of the jungle due to the value that the birds within it might have if birdwatching activities are well organized and well advertised.
The first thing you need to do, to develop a birdwatching activity is to promote excursions through useful tools, this includes birdwatching guides that need to be as complete as humanly possible, and with this in mind, the University of Guadalajara has been working on a guide that in its first edition will cover over 200 species of birds that have been photographed by Eduardo Lugo, Frank McCann and Petr Miska, with the collaboration of Dr. Rocio Amparan, ornithologist at CUC (University Center of the Coast).
With these and other efforts we can hope that Puerto Vallarta, in the future, will be identified as an ideal destination for birdwatching tours and other sustainable ecotourism activities.