UNWTO Sets Recommendations on Tourism and Biodiversity

Defining the critical role of the tourism sector in protecting biodiversity and setting out clear recommendations on how to maximize this contribution is the aim of two new UNWTO reports. These recommendations come ahead of World Tourism Day 2010, (WTD), celebrated on 27 September under the theme ‘Tourism and Biodiversity’.

Tourism and Biodiversity: Achieving Goals towards Sustainability, underlines the relationship between sustainable tourism and biodiversity, and assesses how tourism can contribute to achieve the international targets for the protection of biodiversity, including the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) 2010 and post-2010 biodiversity goals. The report also considers the implications for tourism of the recommendations from The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study, part of the United Nation’s Green Economy Initiative.

The UNWTO report sets out ten recommendations for governments, international organizations, the tourism sector and NGOs on integrating biodiversity conservation in tourism development. Key among these are implementing best practices for avoiding and minimizing negative impacts of tourism on biodiversity; applying the CBD Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development and the findings of TEEB to the sustainable management and development of tourism; and promoting investment in ecological infrastructure.

The Practical Guide for the Development of Biodiversity-Based Tourism Products offers practical guidelines to local tour operators and product developers on how to develop sustainable biodiversity-based tourism products. Practical recommendations, including attending training programmes and monitoring the capacity of natural areas in order not to damage habitats and species, will help tourism stakeholders to not only position themselves competitively in international markets, but to also maximize tourism’s benefits for local communities, while maintaining local biodiversity.

The two reports will be presented in Guangzhou, China, host of World Tourism Day 2010, and set the scene for the High Level Dialogue on Tourism, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development which marks the World Tourism Day official celebrations.

In a special message on the occasion of World Tourism Day, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has commended the tourism community for its “growing recognition of the importance of conserving the diversity of life on Earth” and further highlights how the sector can contribute to protecting biodiversity through “integrating simple measures such as managing tour groups to minimize disturbance to wildlife or buying supplies only from sustainable sources”. The full message can be viewed at: http://www.unwto.org/worldtourismday/about/about.php?lang=E&op=7

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