WTO and UNEP launch joint Publication on Sustainable Tourism

Travel News Asia 6 September 2005

The World Tourism Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have combined their efforts to condense all aspects of the sustainability of tourism into a single publication: Making Tourism More Sustainable: a Guide for Policy Makers. It will be launched simultaneously by the two organizations in Madrid and Paris on 6 September.

The purpose of the new WTO-UNEP publication is to provide tourism decision makers with guidance and a framework for the development of policies for more sustainable tourism, a toolbox of instruments that they can use to implement these policies, and some selected case studies. "The two organizations wish to encourage all countries to ensure that their policies and actions for the development and management of tourism fully embrace the principles of sustainability," said Eugenio Yunis, Head of WTO Sustainable Tourism Development.

According to how it will be planned, developed and managed, the massive growth predicted for tourism in the forthcoming years could provide excellent opportunities for spreading prosperity but could also represent considerable challenges and potential threats to the environment and local communities. There is also an increasing appreciation of the role of tourism in addressing world poverty, through bringing a source of income to the heart of some of the poorest communities.

Aim of the new Guide

This new guide is a basic reference book and provides a blueprint for governments to formulate and implement sustainable tourism policies. It builds on UNEP and the WTO's previous work on different aspects of sustainability. The conclusions drawn and the policies and tools recommended in this guide are therefore based on real cases, collected from around the world, that have proven to be effective and successful in achieving the aims of sustainable development.

The guide is aimed primarily at governments, at national or local level, while being also relevant to other public and private organizations to the extent that they are affected by, and can affect, tourism policies and their implementation. Indeed, all tourism stakeholders can benefit from the sector being made more sustainable:

- Tourism enterprises, which, while seeking long term profitability, should be concerned about their corporate image, the relationship with their staff, and their impact on the global environment and that immediately around them.

- Local, host communities, which are seeking increased prosperity and new employment opportunities, but without exploitation or damage to their quality of life, including their culture, beliefs and traditions.

- Environmentalists, who are concerned about the harmful impacts of tourism upon the natural environment, but also recognise that it is a valuable source of income for conservation and a unique, effective tool for further developing environmental awareness among the general public.

- Tourists, who are seeking a high quality experience in safe and attractive environments, in which they can appreciate different cultures or simply enjoy different climates.

"Sustainability is the responsibility of all those involved in tourism, but governments must play a leading role," underlined Mr. Yunis. "They should provide an environment that enables and encourages the private sector, tourists and other stakeholders to respond to sustainability issues."

Structure of the publication

First, the guide introduces some key principles and an agenda for more sustainable tourism, framed around a set of 12 Aims. These 12 Aims for more sustainable tourism are then discussed in turn and policy areas relevant to each of them are identified.

In a next step, it presents the right structures through which governments can work with others towards more sustainable tourism, and the strategies that are required to develop and drive policies and actions.

Then it looks at the process of developing a tourism strategy that embraces sustainability and identifies some of the strategic choices that need to be made. It looks at product and market selection, and introduces the tools that may be used to influence tourism development, the operation of tourism enterprises and the behaviour of visitors.

Finally, a detailed description is given of a set of instruments, and of how they can be applied by governments. They include the use of sustainability indicators, planning, infrastructure provision, legislation and regulations, and a set of voluntary and facilitating instruments.

In addition to these guidelines, the publication presents selected case studies from the following countries: Australia, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Egypt, Ghana, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and United Kingdom.

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