ILLEGAL bird trapping could is harming both the environment and the economy, according conservationist group Terra Cypria’s latest report.

The report shows that not only are 1.7 million birds slaughtered annually, but the lost tourist revenues could run to €1 billion, outweighing the revenue from the sale of trapped birds in restaurants.

Were the trapping to stop, lucrative bird parks and fairs could be established on the island, presenting a positive image of the island, but crucially generating up to €1 billion annually.

Terra Cypria assistant director Costas Orountiotis said yesterday: “The income that some sections of society derive from illegal bird trapping is actually less than the income lost by local hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.”

Their investigation estimated that the revenue from illegally trapped birds, which are prepared and sold illegally in restaurants as Ambelopoulia, reached around €50 million in 2010.

This is based on Bird conservation group Birdlife Cyprus’ estimates that 1.7 million birds were illegally trapped last year of which only one million of those would have been edible and would have reached the market. The current price per bird to be around €5 per bird in Cypriot restaurants, the total revenue is in the region of €5 million per annum.

While this gives a strong incentive to trappers to continue their hunting, the total is dwarfed by the economic cost to the rest of the island, which Terra Cypria believes has deterred more environmentally aware tourists.

Orountiotis said: “We studied the petitions of (anti bird trapping organisation) CABS, which gathered 5,200 signatures of people who would not come to Cyprus because they disagreed with bird trapping.”

According to the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, each tourist pays on average €70 per day when holidaying in Cyprus. Furthermore for every complainant, the CTO estimates 25 more do not bother to complain but simply do not come to the island.

After multiplying the estimated non-arrivals by the average spend, Terra Cypria puts the opportunity cost at €1 billion.

Were Cyprus to receive these tourists, the island could even generate additional sums –over and above the average tourist expenditure, by setting up bird parks and bird fairs such.

These have proven to be attractive in other countries. For example the theoretical annual income from visits to the Ku?cenneti bird park in Turkey is € 76,770,000, while the Eagleton fair generated more than €300,000 last year and more than €2.3 million since it opened.

Source: Cyprus Mail

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