World Tourism Day is commemorating its 30th anniversary, with a series of events around the world designed to highlight the importance of protecting the environment.
Under the banner Tourism and Biodiversity, proceedings will be focused on China where events designed to raise awareness of the close relationship between tourism development, biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction will be held.
Taking part in the events WTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai, explained: “The value of biodiversity for tourism is immeasurable. One of tourism’s greatest assets, the diversity of life on Earth causes millions of people to travel the world each year.
“Yet biodiversity, the intricate web of unique species and ecosystems that make up our planet, is at risk on a global scale.
“Demographic pressures and unsustainable human activities are causing irreversible biodiversity loss at an alarming rate.”
Events are taking place within the framework of the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity; an ongoing series of events designed to raise the profile of the issue.
“Tourism revenues resulting from the enjoyment of this biological diversity, often located in the world’s less developed regions, are a significant source of income and employment for local communities,” added Mr Rifai.
“It is this relationship between tourism and biodiversity and the resulting positive impacts on local livelihoods, development and poverty alleviation that must set the tone for sustainable tourism development.”
One of the key events will be the High Level Dialogue on Tourism, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development meeting in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, the host of the WTD celebrations.
The event will debate issues ranging from the economic value of biodiversity for tourism, to how to integrate biodiversity protection into planning for sustainable tourism.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon also expressed his support for the venture.
“Despite repeated global pledges to protect the planet’s species and habitats – and the goods and services they provide – the variety of life on Earth continues to decline at an unprecedented rate.
“Human activities are the cause. This year – the International Year of Biodiversity – provides a timely opportunity to focus on the urgency of safeguarding biodiversity for the wealth, health and well-being of people in all regions of the world.”
Take a look at the UNWTO website for more information on World Tourism Day.