Challenges of Ecotourism Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic
Birding tours in China, Israel canceled, postponed due to coronavirus travel constraints
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, travel limitations implemented worldwide have compelled companies that organize bird-watching tours to either delay or cancel at least 15 of their scheduled tours in China from February to early June.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only caused health and economic concerns, but it has also affected the tourism industry, including bird-watching tours in China. Several companies, including Birdtour Asia, China Bird Tour, WINGS Birding Tours, and Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, have been forced to cancel their scheduled tours in China between February and early June due to travel restrictions around the world.
The pandemic has created unprecedented circumstances that have disrupted the travel industry, and bird-watching tours are no exception. In response to the situation, Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures has decided to postpone its current China and Japan tours until 2021.
Bird-watching is a popular activity among enthusiasts who enjoy observing different bird species in their natural habitats. However, with the current situation, it is important to prioritize health and safety. These companies have demonstrated their commitment to their clients’ well-being by canceling or postponing tours, despite the challenges this may pose for their businesses.
The tourism industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, but with vaccinations rolling out and travel restrictions easing in some areas, the hope is that the industry can start to recover. In the meantime, companies that organize bird-watching tours are finding creative ways to keep their clients engaged, including virtual tours, which allow enthusiasts to explore bird-watching destinations from the comfort of their own homes.
In conclusion, the pandemic has presented unique challenges to the tourism industry, but companies that organize bird-watching tours are taking measures to ensure the safety of their clients. While it may be disappointing for enthusiasts to have their tours postponed or canceled, it is crucial to prioritize public health during these times.
Tang Jun, who owns and manages China Bird Tour, is considering canceling additional tours this spring. He plans to make a decision in April. Likewise, James Eaton from Birdtour Asia will determine the status of four scheduled tours in China for this spring and summer in the near future.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the tourism industry, and the bird-watching tour sector is no exception. Keith Valentine, the managing director of Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures, notes that they were able to carry out their Taiwan, Japan in winter, Thailand, and Vietnam tours without any problems, as the virus was primarily confined to China during that time. However, given the recent developments of the pandemic, he is uncertain if those trips could proceed today.
With the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, bird-watching tour companies are closely monitoring the situation and making decisions on a case-by-case basis. The safety and well-being of their clients are of utmost importance, and they are taking necessary precautions to ensure their safety while still allowing them to enjoy their tours.
The bird-watching tour industry has had to adapt to these unprecedented circumstances by offering virtual tours, rescheduling trips, or modifying tour itineraries. The pandemic has also presented an opportunity to highlight the importance of conservation and sustainable tourism practices.
While the pandemic has created challenges for the bird-watching tour industry, the hope is that the industry can recover as vaccines roll out and travel restrictions ease. Until then, companies are taking the necessary precautions to ensure their clients’ safety while still offering an enjoyable bird-watching experience.
In conclusion, the pandemic has created unique challenges for the bird-watching tour industry. Despite these challenges, companies are prioritizing the safety and well-being of their clients and finding creative ways to provide an enjoyable bird-watching experience. As the world navigates through the pandemic, the industry will continue to adapt and evolve.
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous challenges for the tourism industry, including bird-watching tour companies like Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures. In light of the situation, the company has implemented policies to address the concerns of its customers.
Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures has announced that customers who have booked tours in 2020 but are unable to travel due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions or concerns may rebook their tours for a later date in 2020 or in 2021. This policy provides customers with the flexibility they need during these uncertain times.
The company’s policy is just one example of how the bird-watching tour industry is adapting to the current situation. Companies are finding ways to address the challenges posed by the pandemic while still providing clients with an enjoyable and safe experience. Some have implemented virtual tours, while others have modified itineraries to comply with health and safety regulations.
The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of sustainable tourism practices and conservation efforts. As the industry continues to navigate through the pandemic, these practices will be critical in ensuring that bird-watching tours can continue to be enjoyed in a safe and responsible manner.
In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for the bird-watching tour industry. However, companies like Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures are finding ways to adapt to the situation and provide their clients with a safe and enjoyable experience. As the world continues to navigate through the pandemic, the industry will continue to evolve and adapt to ensure that bird-watching tours can be enjoyed responsibly and sustainably.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the bird-watching tour industry, and the situation continues to evolve. The recent spread of the virus around the world has led to an increase in travel restrictions and cancellations of birding trips and events.
The uncertainty surrounding the pandemic has made it challenging for bird-watching tour companies to plan and operate their tours. As a result, many companies have been forced to cancel or postpone trips, leaving customers disappointed and unsure of when they will be able to enjoy their bird-watching tours.
The safety and well-being of clients and staff are the top priorities for bird-watching tour companies, and they are closely monitoring the situation to ensure that they comply with local health and safety guidelines. However, the evolving nature of the pandemic means that more birding trips or events may be canceled or postponed.
Despite the challenges, bird-watching tour companies are finding innovative ways to adapt to the situation. Some are offering virtual tours, while others are modifying their itineraries to comply with health and safety regulations.
In conclusion, the spread of the COVID-19 virus around the world has raised concerns and the possibility of further cancellations and postponements of birding trips or events. However, bird-watching tour companies are committed to providing a safe and enjoyable experience for their clients, and they are finding ways to adapt to the situation. As the situation evolves, they will continue to closely monitor the situation and adjust their operations accordingly.
The following statement was issued by Victor Emanuel, the founder of Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, regarding the virus and its impact on travel:
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread concerns and disruptions to the travel industry, including bird-watching tour companies like Victor Emanuel Nature Tours. In response to these concerns, the company’s founder, Victor Emanuel, has issued a statement to address the situation and assure customers that their well-being is a top priority.
In the statement, Victor Emanuel acknowledges the growing worries regarding illness related to COVID-19 and reassures customers that the company is closely monitoring the situation. He notes that the news on the world scene is mixed, with new cases appearing in countries previously unaffected, while the rate of transmission in mainland China, where the virus originated, has declined.
The company understands that customers may have concerns about their well-being with regard to travel, and Victor Emanuel assures them that the company is taking the situation seriously. He emphasizes that the safety and well-being of customers and staff are of utmost importance.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a great deal of uncertainty, and it is still too early to tell what the ultimate impact of the virus will be. However, Victor Emanuel Nature Tours is committed to providing customers with a safe and enjoyable experience while closely monitoring the situation and complying with local health and safety guidelines.
In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for the bird-watching tour industry. However, companies like Victor Emanuel Nature Tours are taking steps to address the concerns of their customers and ensure their safety and well-being. As the situation continues to evolve, the company will adapt and adjust its operations to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for its customers.
“We are confident in continuing with the operation of our tours, as the number of confirmed cases outside mainland China (and South Korea in recent times) is relatively low,” stated the tour company. They further added that they do not intend to cancel any of their upcoming tours, except for their Classic China tour, which was canceled recently.
The company representative emphasized that they are closely monitoring the situation and will cancel a tour if deemed necessary, based on changing circumstances. The top priority of the company is the health and safety of their travelers.
Israel quarantine affects birders
Birders who were planning to travel to Israel for the annual Champions of the Flyway birding conservation race on March 31 have been forced to cancel their plans due to recent travel restrictions implemented by the Israeli government. The government announced that anyone flying into the country beginning March 12 will have to go into quarantine for two weeks, in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The race will still take place for the 25 or so teams of Israeli birders, but organizers are working on alternate options for the international participants who are unable to travel. They are exploring the possibility of holding local races in their home countries, allowing them to still participate in the spirit of the event and support the conservation efforts that the race aims to promote.
The Champions of the Flyway birding conservation race is an annual event that raises funds and awareness for bird conservation projects in different parts of the world. The event attracts birders from around the world to compete in a friendly competition while supporting a good cause. The decision to cancel travel plans is undoubtedly disappointing for those who were planning to participate, but the organizers are doing their best to provide alternative options in the face of the current situation.
The quarantine measures will also impact other planned birding trips in Israel, which is considered one of the best birding destinations during this time of the year.
Jonathan Meyrav, the tourism manager for the Israel Ornithological Center, announced in a Facebook video that aside from the Champions race, other birding events and tours have also been canceled, including the Eilat festival and various birding tours that were scheduled for international clients. He added that this situation is a major setback for the conservation efforts in Israel, but they have no other choice but to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.
Monitoring the situation
As of the last week, none of the eight birding-tour companies that I contacted have stated that they will be canceling or changing their other tours scheduled in the upcoming months, at least not as of now.
According to Matt Brooks, the managing director of WINGS Birding Tours, the ongoing or recently concluded tours have not been significantly affected by travel restrictions except for some participants who had to alter their travel plans to Asia due to the current travel restrictions and flight suspensions. These participants had to change their routes to avoid layovers in countries such as China, Hong Kong, and South Korea.
“We are closely monitoring upcoming tours in several destinations. In the next few days, we may see a few participants cancel their bookings for tours scheduled in March, April, or May, possibly in a broader range of destinations than what we have seen so far as the situation evolves. It’s also possible that new bookings for birding travel plans during the same period may slow down as some clients may opt to postpone their travel.”
The necessity of travel insurance was emphasized by officials from various tour companies, including Justin Peter, who serves as the director of Worldwide Quest Nature Tours.
Justin Peter, director of Worldwide Quest Nature Tours, has stressed the importance of obtaining adequate travel insurance, stating that it is always recommended for travelers to purchase travel insurance at the time of booking. He explained that this will protect them in case of a government advisory such as a “Do not travel” or “Avoid non-essential travel” notice issued on the destination country, as such a notice can be covered by insurance. However, he also emphasized that travelers need to do their due diligence and research their insurance coverage carefully. While travelers are naturally concerned about the current situation, Peter believes that most of their clients are well-informed and will carefully consider their destination and insurance coverage before making or changing their plans. It’s important to note that insurance will not cover a cancellation simply due to personal preferences if there is no actual, objective, and reasonable risk involved.
As the outbreak of COVID-19 continues to spread globally, travel companies are closely monitoring the situation to determine any potential impacts on their operations. Cam Gillies, the president of Eagle-Eye Tours, stated that while none of his company’s tours have been affected so far, they are keeping a close eye on the situation.
Gillies emphasized the importance of insurance, urging new customers to carefully consider their options to protect themselves against any potential losses on flights or other expenses. He added that it is still too early to determine the full extent of the outbreak’s impact on the travel industry.
Many other tour companies have expressed similar sentiments, emphasizing the importance of closely monitoring the situation and staying informed about any potential travel restrictions or cancellations. While some tours may be unaffected at present, the situation remains fluid, and companies are bracing for the possibility of cancellations or postponements in the future.
Despite the uncertainty, companies are continuing to take bookings for upcoming tours and are remaining optimistic about the future. As the situation evolves, they will continue to closely monitor developments and adjust their operations as needed to ensure the safety and well-being of their customers.
Cancelations not made lightly
Peg Abbott, owner of Caligo Ventures and Naturalist Journeys, is no stranger to the challenges that come with ecotourism. For decades, her companies have navigated the risks of various health hazards, dangerous wildlife, difficult terrain, and political instability to provide nature-based travel experiences for their clients.
However, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus has presented a new challenge for ecotourism companies like Abbott’s. With travel restrictions and quarantines being implemented in many countries, some travelers are understandably hesitant to book trips or are canceling existing plans.
Abbott emphasizes the importance of taking precautions and staying informed when planning and embarking on ecotourism trips. This includes researching the destination thoroughly, following guidelines from health and government officials, and considering travel insurance options.
Despite the challenges, Abbott remains optimistic about the future of ecotourism. She believes that the desire for nature-based travel experiences will continue to be a strong motivator for travelers, and that the industry will adapt to the current situation and continue to thrive in the long run.
In addition, Abbott suggests that there could be some potential positive outcomes from the current situation: “Maybe there will be some positive changes. Airlines and airports could increase their hygiene standards, and travelers could respond with enthusiasm. Many of our clients are retired, which is when people have the time and financial resources to travel for birdwatching. However, this also means they are at a higher risk for any strain of influenza or viruses that can spread in crowded airports.”
“Our clients are people we know personally, and naturally, we are concerned for everyone’s wellbeing. However, our primary goal is to facilitate our clients’ opportunity to witness the incredible biodiversity of our planet. We take this responsibility seriously and will do our best to ensure that our tours continue as planned, providing reassurance and assistance to clients in the event of any travel disruptions.”
“We are aware that many of our clients spend months preparing for their trips, researching and learning about the birds and the culture of the destination. They make arrangements with their families and pets, and it is not an easy decision for anyone to cancel a trip. Therefore, we will only make such a decision after careful consideration and consultation, and with reliable and accurate information.”