Friends of World Heritage, Expedia and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre is launching the ‘I Am a Responsible Traveler’ campaign to encourage individuals to undertake a series of easy steps to reduce their traveling footprint and enhance their experiences when visiting World Heritage sites.“Tourism, if unchecked, can pose one of the greatest threats to the integrity of World Heritage sites. But by taking basic steps to travel responsibly, tourists can become some of the most powerful supporters for resource conservation and site protection,” said Art Pedersen, Sustainable Tourism and Heritage Expert at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
“This summer we are asking that, when going through routine steps of preparing for a trip, travelers add signing the ‘I Am a Responsible Traveler’ pledge to their pre-vacation check list,” said Erika Harms, Executive Director of Sustainable Development at the United Nations Foundation. “All World Heritage sites can benefit from responsible travel, from the Great Barrier Reef to Machu Picchu and the Grand Canyon.”
By signing the pledge, Responsible Travelers commit to:
Discover the natural and cultural beauty that makes World Heritage sites so unique before leaving on their trip.
Share their commitment to World Heritage sites with the hotels, tour operators and other companies that they use, and encourage those companies to make their own commitment to sustainable tourism choices. And share their experiences with others to help build a movement of responsible travelers.
Preserve the natural and cultural value of World Heritage sites by reducing their environmental impact and respecting local customs.
“Signing the pledge means that travelers will come home with more the usual album full of photos and memories,” said Kim Solem, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Expedia, Inc. “Responsible travelers also return with the knowledge that they have contributed to a lasting legacy of World Heritage and a means of sustainable livelihood for the local communities living in and around those sites.”
The Responsible Traveler pledge is part of a series of Friends of World Heritage initiatives to educate and mobilize a grassroots constituency that will raise awareness about the importance of protecting World Heritage, and drive efforts to promote sustainable development and responsible travel in and around World Heritage sites.
World Heritage sites are recognized internationally for their outstanding natural and cultural value, and are protected by the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention. There are currently 851 designated World Heritage sites that span 184 countries and offer an extraordinary range of travel experiences. These include 660 cultural sites, such as the historic Centre of Prague and the Pyramids of Egypt; 166 natural sites such as the Galapagos Islands, and the parks, forests and wildlife reserves of the Democratic Republic of Congo; and 25 mixed properties.