At the beginning of October, Pelican Way Of LIFE boatman and guide training took place in Sfantu Gheorghe, located in the Danube Delta. The 2-day course was the first event in the series of 3 trainings planned for Romania.
The courses aim to develop proper standards and a code of conduct for boatmen and tourism activities in the area and promote correct guiding practices, and therefore reduce the impact on Dalmatian pelican and other birds. They will also allow proper ecotourism development as a form of income in the area with a high level of conscious behavior towards wildlife and low impact to the environment.
Boatman & guide training was held by Simon Collier from Nature Tourism Development with the support of the Rewilding Danube Delta team. The training program and content were created and designed for entry-level boatmen that have a combined income operating as fishermen and in the summer season as tourism boatmen in the Danube delta.
“Though not all of the selected guides and boatmen were able to take part at the training, good learnings and insights were covered and acknowledged by the participants to take forward. Participants also received a guide manual with both English and Romanian skills and information for future use and reference,” says Serban Ion, Rewilding Danube Delta.
The training consisted of the theoretical and practical parts. Theoretical sessions covered the basics of delivering an experience on the water within the local context, boating experience, and the rules of the area. A broad variety of guiding-related aspects included guiding principles, guiding standards, hospitality, sensitivity, and ethics. Delivering guided experiences in nature was a large component of the theoretical discussion. The discussion covered also the challenges of operating in the region, combining locations and also wildlife contact.
“At the training, we discussed as well how to form a more collective group of like-minded sustainably focused guides within the Delta. Though participants think it can be a great challenge, it’s worth trying. A unified body of guides would allow a more cohesive structure and strategy for guide training and standard-setting in the delta network,” says Simon Collier, the trainer from Nature Tourism Development.
A practical session included a boat visit to a nearby sandbar at a sensitive distance to view pelican and other birdlife and also a visit to the cormorant colony located on the main Sulina connection boat way.
The second training is scheduled for autumn 2022. In order to have the greatest impact and reach it will consist of the condensed 4-hour trainings in two locations: Sf Gheorghe and Sulina. The experienced guides that already have good skill sets and knowledge will benefit from more advanced tourism training in another location.