Economic impact of birdwatchers
What surveys completed by birdwatchers from May 2010 to November 2011 at six popular birding destinations in Ohio reveal about the economic impact of birding in the state.
Published: April 20, 2012
Questionnaires completed by birders at six hotspots along Lake Erie have yielded a detailed and fascinating picture of birdwatchers and their economic impact in the state of Ohio.
Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Philip F. Xie, director of the School of Human Movement, Sport, and Leisure Studies at Bowling Green State University, conducted the surveys from May 2010 to November 2011 at Oak Openings Preserve, Magee Marsh, Sheldon Marsh, Old Woman Creek, Mentor Marsh, and Conneaut Harbor in northwest Ohio.
Among his findings:
• Birders spent $26,438,398 during visits to the six locations. $4,594,749 was spent on travel.
• Birdwatching created 283 full-time and/or part-time jobs in the region and generated $8.9 million in personal income and about $1.9 million in tax revenues.
• Birders were mature, had high incomes, and were highly educated: 62% were over 55 years of age, 80% were college graduates, and 34% reported annual household incomes over $100,000.
• The majority (64%) said they were willing to travel over 100 miles to go birding. Birders whose annual income is over $75,000 were more willing to travel farther than those with lower incomes.
• The researchers classified birders as advanced, serious, or casual based on the amount of time the respondents spent birding and the number of species they could identify. A majority (51%) were “serious,” 25% were “advanced,” and 24% were “casual.”
• 72% of all respondents were willing to purchase binoculars valued at more than $300, and 48% were willing to purchase a camera costing more than $500. 60% spent more than $100 per year on books and field guides.
Xie writes that awareness of birding’s potential to revive local economies and generate revenue is low: “A greater focus is needed by the tourism community on the birding opportunities in the region.”