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Tour operators take another step towards sustainable tourism

Paris/Nairobi, January 2000 ­ - Tour Operators from around the world took another step towards sustainable tourism today when they met with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to finalize the Tour Operators Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development. The Initiative will be launched in Berlin on 12 March 2000, during the International Tourism Bourse (ITB).

In April 1999 at the New York Session of the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development, thirty-two leading tour operators committed themselves to develop a partnership with UNEP, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizaton and the World Tourism Organization to promote sustainable tourism. The Tour Operator Initiative was developed out of that commitment.

The tourism industry is one of the leading economic sectors in the world, said Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. I am pleased to see the proactive role taken by a number of tourism industry leaders and look forward to the launch of the Initiative in Berlin this year, he added.

Today, more and more tour operators recognise their role in developing sustainable tourism, and those joining the Initiative will see a number of financial and other benefits including an enhanced company image, cost savings, increased revenues, improved customer satisfaction, and improved dialogue with local authorities and governments, emphasized Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel, Director of the UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics.

Sustainable tourism is a way to reconcile the protection of the environment on which tourism thrives and grows with economic benefits both for tourism companies and local communities where they operate, commented Nico Visser from TUI Netherlands, who chaired part of the meeting.

Tour operators also plan to use the Initiative to share experiences, knowledge and expertise, implement best practice environmental management systems, minimize pollution and waste generation, and sustainably manage energy, water and other resources. Further, the Initiative will help tour operators preserve bio-diversity and cultural heritage as well as to build links with communities and cultures affected by tourism.

For more details on the launch event please contact:

United Nations Environment Programme, Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, Giulia Carbone, 39-43 quai André Citroën, 75739 Paris Cedex 15, France. Tel : + 33 1 44 37 14 68; Fax : + 33 1 44 37 14 74; E-mail :

In Nairobi, Tore J. Brevik, UNEP Spokesman/Director, Communications and Public Information, , P.O. Box 30552. Tel.: (254-2) 623292; Fax: 62- 3927; E-mail:

UNEP Information Note 2000/1

Wednesday 19 Jan 2000
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