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Home > Tourism - Updated: 14-04-2003 2:20 pm
Towards more responsible tourism.

Tourism is the world’s largest industry and studies predict its increasing growth.  
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The World Tourism Organization (WTO) estimates that between 1950 and 2001, the number of international arrivals has grown from 25 million to 689 million, corresponding toan average annual growth rate of 7%. Receipts from international tourism (excluding international fare receipts) reached US$ 476 billion in 2000, an increase of 4.5% over the previous year. Worldwide, the average receipt per arrival amounted to US$680. In addition, domestic tourism is of major importance in many countries.

Photo:© Yann Arthus-Bertrand/Earth from above/UNESCO

Tourism is thus an important factor in the economy of many countries and in the management of many cultural sites and natural areas. Being a people-oriented industry, tourism also provides many jobs which have helped revitalize local economies. Yet by its very nature tourism is ambivalent, generating well-known problems as well as well-known benefits.

Within UNESCO, several initiatives seek to promote a new tourism culture,based on common sense and the responsible use of the environmental resources and cultural assets of each destination. As described in UNESCO’s contribution to the recent World Ecotourism Summit (Quebec City, Canada, 19-22 May 2002)activities include intellectual contributions, the promotion of ethical principles and the concrete testing of approaches to sustainable tourism at the field level. The role includes both normative and standard-setting functions. The work also entails co-operation and partnerships with a wide range of other bodies.

Recent boosts to this work have come from the adoption by the UNESCO General Conference in 2001 of the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, and UNESCO’s role as lead agency for the United Nations Year for Cultural Heritage (2002).With tourism representing both an opportunity and a threat to culture, UNESCO’s work on cultural tourism seeks to help its Member States in devising strategies for the long-term preservation of the cultural heritage. Another important component of tourism is the oral and intangible heritage, including music, languages, oral traditions and the performing arts.

At the field level, promoting improved tourism practices is a concern at many World Heritage sites and biosphere reserves. Tourism in coastal regions features in a web-based forum on wise coastal practices and in the recently available UN Atlas of the Oceans. Teacher-education materials include a sustainable tourism module in a multi-media programme “Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future”.

Collaboration with other bodies includes participation in the Tour Operators Initiative for Sustainable Development and promoting the testing of the UNEP-CBD Draft International Guidelines on Sustainable Tourism. Several international NGOs associated with UNESCO also carry out projects linked to tourism in particular regions and settings.


Websites
Biosphere Reserves and More Responsible Tourism
Testing improved approaches to tourism development is a key activity at many of the sites in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (currently, 408 sites in 94 counties) within the MAB Programme.
>> More info   >> Go to website

CSI Web-based Forum on Wise Coastal Practices
Tourism is one of the topics addressed in a web-based forum operated by the platform on Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands (CSI).
>> More info   >> Go to website

Cultural Tourism
Helping countries and communities to devise strategies for the long-term preservation of the cultural heritage
>> More info   >> Go to website

Intangible Heritage
An increasingly important component of tourism is the oral and intangible heritage, including music, languages, oral traditions and the performing arts.
>> More info   >> Go to website

International Scientific Council for Island Development (INSULA)
November 1999 study on the development and impacts of tourism and tourism services (e.g. air services) on small islands.
>> More info   >> Go to website

SCOPE-EGIS Study on Tourism Effects on Biodiversity in Coastal and Island Regions
May 2002 saw the publication of a multi-authored volume on ”Tourism, biodiversity and information”
>> More info   >> Go to website

Sustainable Tourism Module in “Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future”
One of 25 modules in a multimedia teacher education programme published by UNESCO in 2002 as part of its function as task manager of Chapter 36 of Agenda 21 and as a contribution to the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
>> More info   >> Go to website

Tour Operators’ Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development
Joint initiative of UNEP, UNESCO and WTO and tour operators. Aim is to create synergy between tour operators who share a common goal to develop and implement tools and practices that improve the environmental, social and cultural sustainability of tourism.
>> More info   >> Go to website

UN Atlas of the Oceans
‘Recreation and tourism’ is one of the categories of use in the recently launched Internet portal on the oceans
>> More info   >> Go to website

UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE)
Together with the World Tourism Organization (WTO), joint organizer of the International Year of Ecotourism (2002) and the World Ecotourism Summit (Quebec City, Canada, 19 to 22 May).
>> More info   >> Go to website

United Nations Year for Cultural Heritage (2002)
UNESCO’s role as lead agency for the Year is serving to reinforce the Organization’s work to promote cultural heritage as a factor in development (including tourism development) as well as an instrument for peace and reconciliation.
>> More info   >> Go to website

Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity
Includes a set of principles and objectives for enhancing the synergy of actions in favour of the cultural heritage.
>> More info   >> Go to website

World Heritage Sites as Premium Tourist Destinations
The World Heritage List (presently comprising 721 exceptional cultural and natural sites in 124 countries) includes some of the world’s greatest tourism destinations, ranging from the Taj Mahal to Machu Picchu and the banks of the Seine in Paris, from the Great Barrier Reef to Sagamartha and Kilimanjaro.
>> More info   >> Go to website

World Tourism Organization (WTO)
Joint organizer with UNEP of the World Ecotourism Summit (Quebec City, Canada, 19-22 May), principal event in the International Year of Ecotourism (2002).
>> More info   >> Go to website


Documents
ecotourism50.gifWhat is ecotourism? - by
Enumarating the general characteristics of ecotourism. More

Draft International Guidelines on Sustainable Tourism - by
Guidelines which seek to assist policy and decision makers and managers responsible for tourism and bidiversity, prepared under the aegis of UNEP and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). More

Strategy for Sustainable Tourism Development in the Sahara - by
One of a dozen available studies on cultural tourism, presents proposals and five guideline strategies for tourism development in the Sahara. More

Tracking the Path of Sustainable Tourism - by
Four-page coloured booklet prepared by the MAB Programme for the recent World Ecotourism Summit held in Quebec City in May More


Resources
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Websites (14)
Publications (4)
Events (1)

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