As the world comes together to celebrate 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity, UNWTO is happy to announce that the World Tourism Day (WTD) celebrations, hosted officially this year by China, will take place under the theme, “Tourism and Biodiversity” (September 27, Guangdong Province). The theme provides a unique opportunity to raise public awareness of the importance of biodiversity to tourism and the role of sustainable tourism in the conservation of life on Earth.
Biodiversity is a key tourism asset and fundamental to its sustained growth. Intact and healthy ecosystems form the cornerstone of thousands of tourist enterprises and products worldwide, attracting hundreds of millions of tourists each year. As a leading economic activity, sustainable tourism has an important role and responsibility in managing and conserving biological natural resources. As a key source of income and employment, tourism often provides strong incentives to protect biodiversity. Sustainable tourism can furthermore generate significant revenues for conservation and community development and help to raise awareness of biodiversity issues.
The theme, “Tourism and Biodiversity,” is particularly pertinent in 2010. Concerned by the continued loss of biological diversity, the United Nations Assembly declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity. The year coincides with the target adopted by governments in 2002, to achieve by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss.
“Tourism and biodiversity are mutually dependent. UNWTO wishes to raise awareness and calls upon the tourism stakeholders and travelers themselves to contribute their part of the global responsibility to safeguard the intricate web of unique species and ecosystems that make up our planet,” said UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai.
Central WTD celebrations will take place in Guangdong Province, China. Alongside a series of cultural events organized by the Chinese government, the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) will host the 2010 World Tourism Day Think Tank around this year’s theme. The Think Tank will bring together leading public and private tourism stakeholders, as well as biodiversity experts and members of the media, to highlight the close relationship between tourism and biodiversity, and identify how tourism can contribute to preserving life on Earth and its unique biodiversity.
This year’s WTD wants to highlight how sustainable tourism initiatives can directly contribute to the conservation of biodiversity. With this purpose, UNWTO is inviting all stakeholders to share their “inspiring stories.” Alongside examples from UNWTO projects, tourism stakeholders can also upload their own stories onto the WTD website, thereby contributing to raising awareness of the importance of this year’s theme and promoting practical example of how to apply the principles of sustainable tourism development to biodiversity conservation.
A collection of the best inspiring stories will be made into a brochure and disseminated at WTD events later in the year.
WORLD TOURISM DAY PHOTO COMPETITION
As in previous years, UNWTO is holding a global online photo competition to raise awareness of the World Tourism Day theme. UNWTO invites all to participate with photos that capture the strong link between tourism and biodiversity showing how tourism not only depends on healthy ecosystems, but can also contribute to them.
The deadline for participation is August 31, 2010. Winners will be announced in early September.
First prize includes a round-trip to China (Guangdong Province), and the four runners-up will each be awarded a digital camera. The best photos will be displayed at a photo exhibition on WTD in China and featured in UNWTO News and on UNWTO.org.
World Tourism Day is a thematic event held every year on September 27. Its purpose is to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political, and economic value. The event seeks to address global challenges outlined in the UN Millennium Development Goals and to highlight the contribution the tourism industry can make in reaching these goals.