Destination Flyways

Destination Flyways

Turning one billion tourists into one billion opportunities to protect the world's original long-distance travelers

In 2012, a record one billion tourists crossed international borders - a true milestone in international travel and a clear sign of the strength of the tourism sector. Destination Flyways channels this strength into a force for global biodiversity conservation and enhanced livelihoods for local communities by creating a network of sustainable and resilient destinations.

Each year, millions of migratory birds set out to travel the world, flying along the same routes, also known as flyways. Spanning continents and oceans, and used by a myriad of bird species, the flyways represent one of the most spectacular and valuable assets of the world’s natural heritage.

During their travels, migratory birds depend upon a chain of vital sites for breeding, staging and wintering. Due to their natural values, these sites are often managed under different conservation schemes and also endowed with great tourism potential. However, external pressures continue to grow, representing a threat for migratory birds, key habitats and the ecosystem services that they provide. Destination Flyways uses an innovative approach to promote and enhance their conservation.

By providing an adequate framework for sustainable tourism management and diversifying the tourism offer along the flyways, Destination Flyways will generate revenue for improved management of biodiversity and spread the benefits of tourism to local communities, while creating attractive experiences for tourists.

Key objectives

  • Enhanced conservation of key habitats and species: by developing and implementing site management plans bringing together environmental and tourism objectives, sustainable tourism will serve as a strategic mechanism for the conservation of vital sites for migratory birds and the spread of benefits to the local community
  • Enhanced local livelihoods: by developing and marketing innovative sustainable tourism products in collaboration with local communities and authorities and the private sector, which will result in employment opportunities and greater competitiveness of the tourism destinations
  • Tourism positioned as an engine for sustainability and behavioural change: by carefully monitoring its impacts to allow prioritizing sustainable tourism as a viable alternative in comparison to other productive sectors and disseminating the value of ecosystem services
  • Effective implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements: by sharing local success stories and fostering the exchange of knowledge within the various levels of government and across a global network of flyway destinations

Preliminary phase

The preliminary phase of Destination Flyways is ongoing with support from the Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety of Germany (BMUB). The main objective of this phase is to lay the groundwork for the project's potential main phase.

As of early May 2014, eight project sites along four of the world's flyways have been preselected with partners. For each site, extensive data collection and identification of the way forward together with local partners are in progress.

A proposal for the main phase of Destination Flyways is expected to be ready by mid-2014, with a potential project start in 2015.

preliminary phase of the project


World Migratory Bird Day 2014 - Destination Flyways: Migratory Birds and Tourism

World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD), celebrated every year on the second weekend in May, is an annual campaign aiming to raise awareness on the need for increased protection of migratory birds and their habitats.

For the 2014 WMBD campaign, UNWTO joined forces with our Destination Flyways partners, the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), to highlight the links between migratory bird conservation, wildlife watching tourism and community development around the world.

Celebrated under the theme "Destination Flyways: Migratory Birds and Tourism", WMBD 2014 took place on 10-11 May 2014 and focused on how sustainable tourism can serve as a catalyst for biodiversity conservation by channelling humanity’s fascination for wildlife in general and migratory birds in particular.

Like migratory birds and tourists, the WMBD Photo Competition, which was organized on the occasion of the WMBD celebration, was able to cross frontiers and reach many different locations. In total, 37 stunning photos of migratory birds taken in 22 different destinations around the world were received. Find out more about the winners of the WMBD competitionWinners of the World Migratory Bird Day Competition Announced