The Big Picture

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that there are 60 million birdwatchers just in the U.S. According to National Geographic $9 billion is spent annually by birdwatchers. The Audubon Society estimates the average birdwatcher spends $2,000 a year ontravel, birding activities and equipment.

This "Silent Multitude" engages in viewing birds in their natural habitats, as they travel world-wide in the process. This group constitutes a vast, untapped market.

The project is not only beneficial for the birds, but the large crowds that have flocked to the pilot project demonstrate its attraction for people as well. The planned visitor's center, educational facility, walks, and observation areas will provide for the fulfillment of a family-oriented, good quality-of-life attraction for the citizens and visitors to Louisiana. It will offer a unique opportunity for us to increase our appreciation and enjoyment of nature.

A study by the Jefferson Parish Economic Development Council (JEDCO) lists the following general benefits of Project Swallow's impact on the economy:
  • Identify the Refuge as a family oriented, tourist and educational center.
  • Generate substantial tax revenues.
  • Provide jobs in tourist related industries.
  • Tourism is an important industry, creating spin-off opportunities for business development.
The most conservative of the JEDCO study's four projections estimates that upon completion of the Sanctuary, 1,500 new jobs will be created with an annual $100 million of direct tourist spending, from which there will be an overall local tax benefit of $8.4 million.