Tourism and Biodiversity, China, 27 September 2010
As the international community comes together throughout 2010 to celebrate life on Earth as part of the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity, the tourism industry is pleased to join in this global campaign by celebrating World Tourism Day (WTD) 2010 in China under the theme Tourism and Biodiversity.
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.
Recognizing the value of Earth’s natural capital to its long-term sustainability, the tourism industry is called upon to protect and sustainably manage biodiversity. A healthy tourism industry depends on a healthy resource base, and sustainable growth in tourism means increased funds for conservation.
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. 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.
Against this background, WTD 2010 will highlight the strong ties between tourism development, biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction. Sustainable tourism presents an important opportunity for safeguarding irreplaceable natural wealth and raising awareness of the importance of life’s natural diversity.
Safeguarding biodiversity is an urgent challenge that concerns us all – the international community, governments, companies and travellers – but it is not too late to act. I am confident that throughout 2010 and beyond the tourism community will come together to demonstrate its vital role in protecting biodiversity and maximizing its contribution to poverty reduction and development.
We look forward to celebrating the natural richness of our planet with you.