This was the message given by Ms Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel, Assistant Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at the World Travel Market 2001 WWF Environmental Debate in London today. The debate is the highlight of this year's WTM Environmental Awareness Day.
Ms de Larderel, who is also the Director of the UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, said the key question is how to put responsible tourism into practice. In this regard she highlighted how UNEP was responding to the challenge by providing practical tools for all parties.
For governments and local authorities, we have developed policy guidelines and principles for the implementation of sustainable tourism. For tourists we have produced awareness raising materials on sensitive ecosystems like coral reefs. With the tourism industry, we are both working with, for example, hotel managers and also the tour operators themselves. We must address the challenge at every level, she said.
Highlighting a recently published teaching pack for the hospitality industry, Ms de Larderel said: Responsible tourism requires that decision-makers are made well aware of the impact of their activities on their environment, and of the solutions that exist. Providing tomorrow's hotel and tourism managers with environmental education is vital if we are to achieve progress. (See below for more information).
Ms de Larderel also said that the Tour Operators Initiative has gone from strength to strength. Since it was launched last year, ten new members have joined the Initiative, taking the total to 25. The group now includes some of the biggest names in the industry such as: Accor Tours, British Airways Holidays, First Choice, Hotelplan, Japan Travel Bureau, LTU-Touristik Gmbh, Scandinavian Leisure Group, Thomson Travel Group and TUI Group. See http://www.uneptie.org/pc/tourism/industry/toinitiative.htm
Finally, with a reference to the current global economic downturn, Ms de Larderel said that at this difficult time for the tourism industry, it was more important than ever to protect the environment. ?We must not lose sight of the fact that a healthy environment is essential for tourism. We must all rise to the challenge of responsible tourism, she said.
Note to journalists: Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel is participating in today's WTM WWF Environmental Debate. She is available for interviews from 3.30 to 5pm. Contact: Robert Bisset on +33-6-2272-5842 or 07733-202553 (in London, 14/11)
For more information on UNEP tourism work: http://www.uneptie.org/pc/tourism/
Note to Editors
UNEP and the International Year of Ecotourism - 2002
In order to address ecotourism issues, the United Nations designated 2002 as the International Year of Ecotourism. UNEP and the World Tourism Organization are jointly coordinating international activities for the Year. For more information see http://www.uneptie.org/pc/tourism/ecotourism/iye.htm
UNEP and the International Ecotourism Society have jointly prepared a new guide on the current state of ecotourism, incorporating the latest case studies from specific field situations to illustrate ecotourism's success and difficulties. Ecotourism: Principles, Practices and Policies For Sustainability will be published in December.
UNEP and the Tourism Industry
Apart from voluntary initiatives such as the UNEP/WTO/UNESCO Tour Operators Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development, UNEP is facilitating the preparation of a Tourist Industry report that will be made available at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, next year.
The tourist industry is also involved in a new project UNEP has started with UNESCO that links conservation and tourism at six World Heritage Sites. The project brings together conservation education, planning, business development and marketing techniques to create a model for using tourism to promote the protection of important habitats. A key project component is to involve tour operators so as to create better tourism products and sustainable management systems. It is starting at El Vizcaino and Sian Ka'an sites in Mexico, Komodo and Ujung Kulon in Indonesia, Rio Platano in Honduras, and Tikal in Guatemala. http://www.uneptie.org/pc/tourism/sensitive/prot-areas_res.htm
In November, UNEP jointly published with the International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA) and the International Association of Hotel School Directors (EUHOFA -International), a comprehensive teaching guide, Sowing the Seeds of Change: an Environmental Teaching Pack for the Hospitality Industry. For information about the guide see http://www.uneptie.org/pc/tourism/library/training-hotel.htm
UNEP Principles on the Implementation of Sustainable Tourism are available on the web at http://www.uneptie.org/pc/tourism/policy/about_principles.htm
UNEP News Release 01/110