African elephant and rhinoceros, mercilessly and illegally being poached to near extinction, are the focus of this year’s WTM World Responsible Tourism Day Opening Ceremony in London on Wednesday November 7th.
Charlie Mayhew, founder of Africa’s leading conservation group Tusk, at the forefront of the fight to save wild animals becoming a distant memory for tourists, is this year’s official opener.
The situation in Africa has reached catastrophic proportions with poaching sweeping through the continent, decimating wildlife and destroying national and local economies, including the tourism industry.
A Rhino Dies Every 18 Hours
Rhino in South Africa alone are being poached at the rate of one every 18 hours and some estimates suggest that as many as 35,000 elephants were slaughtered last year from an overall population of between 350,000-400,000.
“What is worrying about the re-emergence of the trade today is that we no longer have the weapon of introducing a new ban within our armoury, the international ban is technically still in place,” said Mayhew.
“We urgently need a new initiative, supported by the whole of Africa, which successfully engages and educates consumer markets to stop buying ivory and allow these animals to just exist.
Tusk was originally launched in 1990 to help combat the first wave of devastating effects from ivory poaching in Kenya.
Since then, the charity has helped to change the lives of rural communities across Africa.
“It is crucial that the travel and tourism industry adds its weight behind the campaign to stop this catastrophe,” said Fiona Jeffery, chairman of World Travel Market.
“This is the natural heritage of future generations and represents a livelihood for rural communities employed to help bring visitors to Africa to watch and wonder at these magnificent animals.
“We are delighted to welcome Charlie Mayhew and Tusk to WTM World Responsible Tourism Day for an unforgettable Opening Ceremony - with a very serious purpose.”
Thanks to a ground-breaking education programme and its radical approach to human wildlife conflict, Tusk is helping to alleviate poverty by ensuring a sustainable future for Africa.
The charity, with the invaluable support of Royal Patron, Prince William, has raised more than $25 million.
Tusk USA has also been launched.
Now considered the largest and most ambitious responsible tourism initiative for the industry in the world, WTM World Responsible Tourism Day, in association with the UNWTO, is marked at London ExCeL – but also with events throughout the world by travel companies, destinations, resorts and individuals.
Now in its sixth year and built on World Travel Market pioneering campaign for responsible tourism over 18 years, the event attracts supporters worldwide.
It aims to inspire, educate and encourage dialogue across every sector.
Stephen Sackur, presenter of BBC’s World’s flagship news and current affairs programme HARDtalk will host WTM’s World Responsible Tourism Day’s Opening Ceremony as well as some of the day’s other key events.
This includes presentation of the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards, organised by responsible tourism.com in partnership with Metro newspapers, World Travel Market, ICRT and Geographical; and HOTseat, the face-to-face interview that gets to the point.
WTM World Responsible Tourism Day’s programme of events, seminars, presentations and debates spans three days – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, although the main focus is on the actual day.
Log on to the website for the full programme.