During the inauguration of the ExpoFuturo Convention Center in Pereira, Colombia, President Santos of Colombia acknowledged Aruba’s successes in the Birdwatching Tourism industry.
The Colombian head of state implied that Aruba’s enduring political stability and beautiful beaches have allowed for Aruba to successfully partake in this type of high-end niche market, affectionately called “birding” by enthousiasts.
President Santos then went on to discuss how the Republic of Colombia will – now that their own stability has improved – encroach on the global Birdwatching Tourism market share and begin to contribute to Aruba’s own already established one, such as through the promotion of vacation packages that introduce birding visitors to both the Aruban beaches and Colombian coffee.
What the President failed to mention though was the contribution and dedication of the Aruba Birdlife Conservation Foundation, which has been active since 2010. To boot, Aruba’s man-made interconnected two-pond wetland area is the locally renowned Bubali Bird Sanctuary and is located within walking distance of the High-rise Hotel area. This nature reserve does not have an admission-fee and is always open to the public and visitors.
Bird-based tourism is one of the fastest growing niche markets in the world and is frequently stated to already be “the fastest growing outdoor activity in America”. It is a form of eco-tourism, which is usually associated with higher income levels and notable for its especially low-impact on the environment. Despite Aruba having no endemic avifauna and while sharing her mostly migratory birds with other nations in the region, Aruba has successfully attracted the attention of several birdwatching organizations and bird conservationists. Of Aruba’s 254 recorded birds (2016), at least 91 of them are considered rare (or accidental) by the South American Classification Committee (SACC) of the American Ornithologists’ Union.
A notable tidbit of this Aruban-Colombian correspondence is that both countries have a birds as their national symbols, the Brown Burrowing Owl (National Symbol) and the Brown-Throated Conure (National Bird) for Aruba and the Andean Condor (National Bird) for Colombia.