“Big numbers entail big responsibilities: with more than one billion people travelling the world each year, tourism must be at the forefront to advance wildlife protection across the globe.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) wishes to express its commitment to support the implementation of World Wildlife Day and joins the CITES Secretariat and others in this important global celebration of the rich diversity of nature.
Biodiversity is one of tourism’s greatest assets – its natural capital – and fundamental to its long-term sustainable development. Every year, millions of tourists interact with wild flora and fauna when they snorkel among coral reefs, go hiking in the mountains, enjoy a wildlife safari or follow the spectacular movements of migratory birds. Without the possibilities of such enriching experiences, tourism could not be the vehicle for sustainable growth, job creation and poverty alleviation around the world that it is today.
Tourism connects people with the places they visit, generates new bonds among cultures and builds bridges of understanding on many levels. Tourism is therefore a natural tool to draw the attention to the importance of respecting and protecting natural environments. This is the basis of tourism’s sustainability track record in successful preservation, providing sustainable livelihood options in delicate areas, channelling revenue directly into conservation projects.
On this first World Wildlife Day, I am happy to announce that, among our various projects in the area of tourism and wildlife protection, UNWTO is currently mobilizing the tourism sector in support of the international efforts to fight the ongoing poaching crisis in Africa. In close collaboration with African tourism authorities, we are determined to take a stand in the global battle against wildlife crime and do our part to ensure the survival of the world’s natural heritage.”
Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General