Alabama birding trail to draw flocks of tourists

Sunday, January 12, 2003

FLORENCE, Ala. -- Alabama draws lots of golfers with the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and fishermen with the Alabama Bass Trail. Bird watchers could be next with development of another major bird-watching trail.

Proponents of the North Alabama Birding Trail hope to complete plans for the route early this year. It would stretch from Mississippi to Georgia, says Keith Hudson, a nongame biologist for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.

"The birding trail is coming along nicely," he says. "We've almost completed the selection of sites. There's going to be about 50 sites scattered across North Alabama."

Stops will include Wilson Dam on the Tennessee River, where numerous gulls and other shore birds congregate, and Colbert Ferry Park on the Natchez Trace Parkway, where both shore and woodland birds are found.

Hudson says travel related to bird watching --called avitourism -- is the fastest growing form of outdoor recreation.

Visitors to Bali dropped after bombings

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- The number of foreign tourists visiting Bali dropped by 60 percent in November, as compared with October, following the deadly bombings on the resort island, according to official statistics.

The Central Bureau of Statistics says 86,901 visited Bali in October. Only 35,107 visited in November.

Nationwide, tourist arrivals in Indonesia slumped by 21 percent to 239,774 in November from 304,806 from a month earlier. Tourism peaked at 421,400 arrivals in August.

More than 190 people, most of them Western tourists, were killed in the Oct. 12 attacks, dealing a serious blow to the country's $5 billion-a-year tourism industry.

More American students are studying in Cuba

NEW YORK-- Although Europe remains by far the top destination for U.S. college students studying abroad, more and more are choosing to enhance their education at an exotic location closer to home -- Cuba.

Long off-limits to all but a few Americans, Cuba allowed 905 U.S. students to visit during the 2000-01 school year, a 64 percent increase over the year before.

The number is expected to grow the next time figures are released as students increasingly turn to the only communist nation in the Western Hemisphere.

Each school sending studdents must first obtain a license from the U.S. Treasury Department prohibiting the students from engaging in commercial enterprise during their visit.

--From wire reports

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