by Chris Larsen, Director Blue Sky Wildlife[Note: Chris was a presenter in WTA’s recent webinars (June 2020)]
Blue Sky Wildlife is an online marketplace specialising in wildlife tourism. Its aim is to connect the independent eco tourist with reliable local wildlife specialists. Independent travellers can choose from over 400 trips, tours and safaris across 40 destinations worldwide, including Australia. These range from day trips, set-departure tours or private, multiday and customised tours that are available throughout the year. The birding tours available on the site are particularly popular.
The World Travel & Tourism Council reported in 2019: “While the Travel & Tourism sector accounts for 10.4% of global GDP, wildlife tourism represents 3.9% of this figure, or $343.6 billion (per annum); a figure equivalent to the entire GDP of South Africa or Hong Kong”. This is a figure anticipated to increase at an accelerated rate in the foreseeable future as a younger generation in this recent global pandemic has woken up to the importance of biodiversity, nature and wildlife.
As tour operators know, these days people, especially from that younger generation, are used to planning and booking their travel online. More than that, they are increasingly opting to put together their own packages and, for wildlife watching in particular, seeking out recommended guides who can offer the local expertise that will ensure a great tour experience.
Blue Sky Wildlife caters for those independent travellers. Customers who are comfortable with, even prefer, booking directly, whether that be flights, accommodation and/or travel experiences. The website offers the opportunity to make a direct approach to a local wildlife specialist, via an enquiry form, to research or make a booking. Blue Sky Wildlife also facilitates booking and making a direct payment for tours through the site. In this case, the booking includes Worldwide Traveller Protection for additional peace of mind.
Over and above just publicising and marketing tours, Blue Sky Wildlife provides a planning tool in the form of many unbiased blogs written by tour operators about the natural areas and wildlife that can be seen in their areas, and independent articles written by wildlife specialists unconnected with any particular tour operator.
All of these articles, housed under the News menu header, promote the richness of the wildlife experience in the featured countries. Site visitors are then provided with links to companies who, if they choose, can provide the opportunity to see for themselves the natural environment and species they have been reading about.
A number of these articles have already secured a Page 1 listing on Google for their topics, linking back to the relevant tour operators and/or tours featured. There are also a number of individual tours that are now starting to secure Page 1 on Google listings (e.g. search “Santa Mart Birding Tour” or “Birding Botswana”).
More than that, for those travellers who like to work from a “bucket list” of animals they want to see in the wild, the site enables a search from the Home page by species’ names. This will provide a list of the relevant tours that can offer a chance to see that species.
Alternatively, travellers can search by selecting a destination, type of tour or tour operator, and they can then subsequently filter their choices by tour focus, Wildlife Reviews, number of days, etc.
All in all, for tour operators specialising in wildlife tourism, Blue Sky Wildlife offers an additional channel to market and access to a unique digital platform to promote their tours to a global audience. For example, enquiries through the site come from USA 30%, UK 27%, Canada 16% and Germany 8%.
Please note that we are presently offering a listing to only two or three wildlife specialists per state/territory from Australia who are able to meet the local wildlife specialist criteria. Interested in being listed? Apply here.