Lots of birds, not enough birdwatchers

Celestún is home to pink flamingos, a tourist draw for Yucatán.
Celestún is home to pink flamingos, a tourist draw for Yucatán.
Celestún is home to pink flamingos, a tourist draw for Yucatán. Photo: Getty

Costa Rica take in billions of dollars attracting birdwatchers. But on the Yucatán Peninsula, where more than a billion birds pass through during migration, this tourist segment is largely overlooked.

Tourism on the peninsula, particularly Quintana Roo, favors sun and surf over ecotourism, notes El Financiaro.

“In Quintana Roo we have tried to promote the activity, but without adequate training infrastructure and progress is slow,” said Juan Flores, president of a birding group called Green Jay, founded in 2012.

Birding expert Barbara MacKinnon said that in Yucatan state, the activity is a bit more developed with the creation of cooperatives in Rio Lagartos and its famous pink flamingos, but in Quintana Roo efforts are scattered and guides need training.

But cooperatives are forming in the Noh-Bec ejido in Felipe Carillo Puerto, promoting the preservation of forested areas and training in birdwatching tourism.

McKinnon suggested that the natural capital for birding is in the Yum Balam ecological reserve, adjacent to the Isla Holbox.

On the Yucatan Peninsula, one can see up to 160 species in a day, she suggests.

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