Coastal “Business of Nature” workshops offered

As the nature tourism industry continues to expand along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, tour operators are invited to attend the free “Business of Nature” workshops, which are designed to improve business operations while promoting environmental stewardship. Set for Monday February 2nd, the first workshop focuses on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, including a presentation about resident Killer Whales in the Gulf, and will be held at Weeks Bay Reserve in Fairhope from 8:30 a.m. until noon.
 
The second workshop on Monday, February 9th explores the Mobile-Tensaw Delta ecosystem. This session spans from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Five Rivers Delta Resource Center in Spanish Fort. Although the workshop content varies slightly, both events will include an economic update from the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), a session on native and invasive plants, a recap of U.S. Coast Guard vessel requirements and an update on the Dolphin SMART program.
 
“Nature tourism has moved beyond mere recreation and become a catalyst of economic growth,” said Joanne McDonough, nature tourism specialist for the CVB. “Our vast natural diversity, in Baldwin and Mobile County, spans wetland and earthy habitats from the Gulf beaches to the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, which is known as one of the most significant and valuable delta complexes in the nation. Well planned and managed nature tourism businesses can provide income to local people, and by its reliance on healthy ecosystems, offer powerful incentives to conserve and protect biodiversity.”
 
These workshops are made possible through the support of Weeks Bay Reserve, the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (Coastal Section), the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, the Auburn University Marine Extension and Research Center and NOAA. While there is no cost for a nature tourism business to attend these morning sessions, reservations are required and can be made by contacting McDonough at 251-974-4635 or jmcdonough@gulfshores.com.
 

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