Bird-watching can help boost ecotourism

SPNL held a three-day workshop entitled “Mainstreaming Conservation of Migratory Soaring Birds into the Eco-tourism Sector” at Coral Beach Hotel, Beirut within the Migratory Soaring Bird Project-MSB Lebanon component funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by the United Nations Development Program and the Ministry of Environment in collaboration with Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon. Various stakeholders from different private and public sectors, such as ministries, tour operators, NGOs, and experts in the field of environment and tourism, attended the workshop. The workshop began with several introductory speeches from BirdLife International Chairman, Mr. Khaled Irani, SPNL Director General Mr. Assad Serhal, and speeches on the behalf of UNDP resident representative Mr. Robert Watkin, the Minister of Environment Mr. Nazem El Khoury, and the Minister of Tourism Mr. Fadi Aboud. The workshop aimed to assess the current situation and encourage development of partnership in eco-tourism sector in Lebanon in all matters related to the protection of migratory soaring birds towards the development of a draft national strategy and action plan for this sector.

The first day of the workshop mainly focused on presentations given by experts that primarily relate to explanations on ecotourism and migratory birds, and the links that could be established between both, in addition to sharing the experiences of local societies about ecotourism in their communities, and the experiences of the private tour operators with regards to ecotourism.

The 2nd day of the workshop focused on developing a national strategy for ecotourism in Lebanon in coordination with all the attendees who shared their opinions and thoughts about the topic. The result was a preliminary draft of a national strategy that will be studied and developed furthermore in the future. After that, the attendees prepared themselves to move to the West Bekaa Country Club for the final day of the workshop.

On 3
rd day, the attendees had their breakfast in the West Bekaa Country Club and then moved to Anjar municipality where introductory speeches were made by the Mayor of Anjar Mr. Garette Bambokian, the Minister of Agriculture His Excellency Dr. Hussein Hajj Hassan, and the representative of UNDP and the Ministry of Environment Dr. Saleem Hamadeh. In the end, Hima Anjar was announced in front of all the attendees and media. After that, everyone moved to Hima Kfar Zabad where a traditional brunch made by the local community was served. The brunch was in the picnic area surrounded by the natural landscape of Hima Kfar Zabad.

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