The first was the British Birdwatching Fair (now in its 25th year, known worldwide as simply the Birdfair www.birdfair.org.uk) and it remains the most important, indeed the benchmark for those that have followed in its wake. There are now bird fairs of different shapes and sizes all over the world. Here in Extremadura we have just celebrated our eighth. We were the first region of Spain to organise a bird fair and this annual event in the Monfragüe National Park has become the biggest and most important in Spain. I was at the first meeting convened to plan the event. The date for the fair (start of March) was deliberate. We wanted the event to take place at the beginning of spring, before the onset of the main arrival of birders coming to visit Extremadura when all of the local businesses would be busy providing accommodation and guiding, but still at the time when spring sunshine could attract local people to visit Monfragüe and enjoy the sight of the nesting vultures and other birds. Such a date would also make the Extremadura Fair the very first of all of the European bird fairs. And so it was agreed and each year since Monfargüe has hosted the familar site of marquees hosting exhibitors trade stands, photography exhibitions, events and fun activities for the whole family. See the photo above by Birding in Extremadura.
This year the fair was bigger and better than ever with exhibitors from across Spain and Portugal and lectures from special guests from UK, Sweden, France and Chile. Organised by the Extremadura Tourist Board, special attention was made to provide good networking opportunities between local businesses and guests from overseas, creating an excellent space for information sharing and exchange.
The Extremadura Birdwatching Fair (or FIO in Spanish, standing for Feria Internacional de Turismo Ornitológico) also this year gave a special place for the new Birding in Extremadura Club to show its credentials. This was launched at last year's British Birdfair and is an important and innovative initiative that brings together the private and public sectors in Extremadura concerned with birds and birdwatching. We know that every year more than 17,000 people come to Extremadura to watch birds and of those, the vast majority of foreign birders (86%) make their own arrangements, rather than travelling in organised groups. The Birding in Extremadura Club was created especially for those people in mind. It helps the visitor to access information and make contact with the best birding servcies (accommodation, guides, information centres etc) based in Extremadura. This means that visitors can now plan their holidays more easily, knowing that they are in touch with high quality, reliable and professional services. Partners of the Birding in Extremadura Club are all fully professional, legally-operating quality businesses and services for birders and you can find out who they are by visiting the Birding in Extremadura website (www.birdinginextremadura.com) or simply checking that who you making your accommodation or guiding services with show the Birding in Extremadura Club kitemark on their websites, on the front of their guesthouses or on their vehicles:
Extremadura has long been a pioneer of birdwatching holidays in Spain, being the first part of Spain to exhibit at the British Birdfair, to having its own Birdfair and its own Product Club for birding, it is also the only region of Spain with a professional association of birding and nature guides (www.guidextremadura.com), which is another place where you can find the best and most experienced Extremadura-based guides to help you get the very best of your visits, indeed to get the best of birding in Extremadura.