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As the sun rises and the flooded forests of Cambodia’s Stung Seng wildlife sanctuary come alive with the chattering and whooping of endangered monkeys with their elegant silvery-grey fur, fishermen from the Phat Sanday commune make their way towards the lake to set their nets for the day.

Located in the Tonle Sap biosphere reserve, the unique wetlands ecosystem of Stung Seng provides food and shelter for a number of species and acts as an important fish nursery. Surrounding floating village communities are also dependent on the wetland’s lakes and trees for clean water, fish, wood, fruits and nuts for their survival.

Unfortunately, in recent years, illegal fishing, overfishing, hunting and forest exploitation have been threatening the health of this vibrant forest. With more than 90% of the commune population relying on fishing, the catch in the lake has been declining.

To combat this, sustainable tourism – where neither the natural environment nor the socio-cultural fabric of the host communities should be impaired by the arrival of tourists – has been introduced to the commune. By providing an alternative source of income, a responsible tourism plan in Phat Sanday is a means of conserving the environment and enhancing the livelihoods of local people.

“Some villagers, especially the youth, move to the city and neighbouring countries to find jobs because there aren’t many available here,” says Mr Leng Sok, a commune council member of Phat Sanday. “Sustainable tourism can help generate income for people who are providing boat, food and accommodation services to tourists. To attract more tourists, our natural resources will need to be protected and sustainably managed.”

Funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and implemented by Wild Cambodia Organisation, the project that Mr Leng is part of emphasises the importance of using participatory approaches to involve villagers in the development and implementation of a ‘responsible tourism master plan.’ The involvement of villagers in the plans not only allows them to contribute their traditional knowledge on their surrounding environments, but also empowers them to take ownership of environmental conservation and their own livelihood enhancement.

Photo: Consultation meeting with local tourism working group © Wild Cambodia Organisation

“When tourism is fully developed, many tourists will come to visit our community and people in our commune will be able to earn more money. To provide good services, we need to train local people in hospitality, especially in activities such as cooking, operating boats, guiding tours etc. This requires a sustainable funding stream. As agreed in our workshops, we plan to use the profit generated from tourism to support conservation activities and commune development. This includes education, health and infrastructure,” said Mr Khoeung, leader of the Phat Sanday Community Protected Area.

This year’s theme for International Day for Biological Diversity is “Biodiversity and Tourism”.

As reflected in the Cambodian project above, attractive landscapes and rich biodiversity are of great importance to tourism economies. The protected areas of South and Southeast Asia are particularly important for tourism and are drawing an increasingly large number of domestic and international visitors. The total contribution of tourism to the gross domestic product in the Asia-Pacific region was approximately US $2,270 billion in 2016, and approximately 159 million people in the Asia-Pacific region are working in jobs related to the tourism sector.

Tourism also relates to many of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Some focus on reducing damage to biodiversity from tourism, while others focus on pursuing positive contributions of tourism through community engagement and raising awareness for biodiversity, protected areas and habitat restoration.

Recognising the importance of tourism in biodiversity conservation, many programmes and organisations are already working with local communities to ensure that tourism not only benefits the economy but also the environment.

CEPF, for example, has supported a number of sustainable tourism projects in the Indo-Burma region since 2008. Some of the projects train local tour guides in ecotourism while others provide support in the development of policies for sustainable tourism.

Another grant-making mechanism, Mangroves for the Future (MFF), a partnership-based coastal programme co-chaired by IUCN and UNDP, has been supporting over 30 projects that focus on sustainable tourism development, since 2007. In India, the Grande & Bat Island ecosystem project assessed and analysed tourism-related threats to the island’s marine ecosystem. The project also trained 40 tour-boat operators on implementing sustainable practices for dolphin watching.

While tourism benefits local communities – both economically and socially- the natural environment cannot be sacrificed in the process. Tourism must be practised responsibly and sustainably, so as to ensure that the biodiversity and species that are critical for maintaining balance in ecosystems are safeguarded.

As a step in achieving this, local and national governments, tourism industries, businesses and local communities need to work together, as part of an inclusive and participatory process, to design the vision and way forward for a sustainable future.

 

Access the article here.

By the IUCN

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Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism

 

This theme has been chosen to coincide with the observance of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in its Resolution 70/193 and for which the United Nations World Tourism Organization is providing leadership.

Biodiversity, at the level of species and ecosystems, provides an important foundation for many aspects of tourism. Recognition of the great importance to tourism economies of attractive landscapes and a rich biodiversity underpins the political and economic case for biodiversity conservation. Many issues addressed under the Convention on Biological Diversity directly affect the tourism sector. A well-managed tourist sector can contribute significantly to reducing threats to, and maintain or increase, key wildlife populations and biodiversity values through tourism revenue.

Tourism relates to many of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. For some Targets (for example 5, 8, 9, 10 and 12) this is primarily about ensuring greater control and management to reduce damage to biodiversity from tourism. For others (1, 11, 15, 18, and 20) this is about pursuing the positive contribution of tourism to biodiversity awareness, protected areas, habitat restoration, community engagement, and resource mobilization. A further dimension is the better integration of biodiversity and sustainability into development policies and business models that include tourism, thereby supporting Aichi Biodiversity Targets 2 and 4.

Celebration of the IDB under this theme therefore provides an opportunity to raise awareness and action towards the important contribution of sustainable tourism both to economic growth and to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Furthermore, the theme also provides a unique opportunity to contribute to ongoing initiatives such as the Sustainable Tourism Programme of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns and to promote the CBD Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development.

We invite Parties and organizations that have already initiated national plans for activities to celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity to keep the Secretariat informed of such plans and other noteworthy activities organized by NGOs or other organizations so that they may be included in these pages.

Read the notification here.

By the Convention on Biological Diversity

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Did you know?

Our planet cannot digest plastic

Plastic makes up about 90% of ocean pollution in the world

In China, 3 billion single-use plastic bags are used every day

The average plastic bag is only used for less than 15 minutes

 

The problem with plastic is that it’s inexpensive and therefore disposable. And when it’s so disposable, there is a lot of it, and a lot of litter, creating unsightly cities, and clogged and polluted waters.

 

We, the tourism industry, are dependent on clean oceans, pristine beaches, and ecological diversity. Local communities are dependent on fresh water and clean cities. It is time to take leadership and proactively reduce the use of plastic in the travel industry.

 

Here are some ways we can tackle plastic pollution in the tourism industry:

 

  1. Charge for it:

It can be difficult to change the legislation on plastic bans, but it isn’t impossible. Charging the customer an additional fee can be an incentive to reduce the demand for plastic products. Read more one the example of Ireland, who was able to reduce the plastic bag consumption by approximately 98 per cent within a week in 2007 by increasing the price for plastic bags.

 

  1. Replace your plastic products

 

  • Use only reusable glasses, mugs, and water bottles at conferences instead of plastic bottles
  • Simply do not allow plastic straws at your hotel or venue, or replace with biodegradable, paper, or bamboo straws
  • Replace single use toiletries with large pump bottles that can be refilled; replace plastic toothbrushes for giveaways with wooden ones
  • Initiate green meeting policies: check out this example

 

  1. Educate stakeholders, staff and travellers

Because everyone uses plastic, it is important to engage with every person involved in the business to educate them about the negative impacts of plastic use and how to make a positive, plastic-free change.

 

What to tell stakeholders:

Reducing plastic means reducing costs! Unnecessary material usage can be avoided, saving a lot of money in production and in waste management. Uptake of environmental management methods may attract new customers or partners who are seeking more environmental friendly businesses. Read more about the benefits of an environmental friendly business.

 

What to tell staff:

Employees play a very important role in doing the right thing with your business. It is important to understand that waste separation and the time and labour involved can not only be costly for the employer, but also very mundane for the worker. It is by no means a glamourous task, so actively reducing plastic means less work in the end. Often, particularly in an office environment, out of sight is out of mind. Once a person puts a piece of plastic is in the trash, they will never see it again. Help staff understand plastic’s lifecycle, and that reducing plastic can make an enormous impact on our planet and communities. Read more on how to engage employees in CSR.

 

What to tell my guests:

Empower your staff to teach guests about your company’s sustainability policy, as it relates to plastic. Explain why you are not using plastic straws or bags, and actively tell your story! Read more on communicating sustainability to guests.

 

Plastic is a global problem, but one that is being tackled all over the world. See how some African countries governments even banned the use of plastic, and consider how we can learn from this example. It is important to move proactive and be the change you wish to see in the Asia Pacific region.

 

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Unhappy with the amount of money Google is making off of your searches? How about a search engine that promises to plant trees every time you search

That’s the idea behind Ecosia, an eco-friendly search engine that has vowed to spend its extra revenue on planting trees in Africa and elsewhere. It’s no small amount either: about 80 percent of the search engine’s revenue ends up being donated (about $50,000-80,000 per month) and the company has planted over three million trees since it launched six years ago — or about one tree every 12 seconds.

“The good cause we support could be something other than tree planting, but we’ve determined planting trees as a way of helping the environment and the people,” founder and CEO Christian Kroll told Digital Trends in an interview.

Read more on how Ecosia is planting trees for every search here.

 

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Sustainability in tourism isn’t just about re-using that hotel towel a second day. It’s thinking deeply about how visitors get in and out of a destination while doing the least harm.

— Jason Clampet

With 2017 being the United Nations’ International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, now is as good a time as ever to take stock of the opportunities and challenges faced by tourism providers trying to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.

While tourism is important to many local and national economies, overcrowding is changing the perception of the benefits of mass tourism. Spain is a prime example of a country struggling with its popularity.

Barcelona’s relationship with tourism has been shaky for a number of years now. Already in 2014, the documentary “Bye Bye Barcelona” highlighted the negative impact of mass tourism on the city. Locals fear that they will be priced out of the housing market, eventually resulting in Barcelona losing population diversity and character. The local government has stopped issuing licences for new hotels and has banned change-of-use permits required for holiday lets.

And Barcelona is not alone. As of 2017, Santorini is limiting the number of cruise visitors to 8,000 per day. Local activists in Venice have asked government to ban cruise ships stopping in its harbour, as cruise visitors have quintupled in the past 15 years. Cinque Terre on the Italian coast is capping the number of visitors to 1.5 million per year. Popular attractions including Machu Picchu and Mount Everest are capping the number of visitors and require visitors to be accompanied by a recognised guide, and Zion National Park is looking at proposals to limit visitors through a reservation system.

Capping tourists is a drastic measure, and surely not something destinations would like to do. It is often seen as a last resort, and the fact that more and more tourist destinations see no other way to remain sustainable and competitive is telling of the apparent failure of other initiatives.

 

Read more here.

By Wouter Geerts, Euromonitor from Skift

 

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World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2 February, marking the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in 1971, known as the Ramsar Convention.

World Wetlands Day Besides providing essential services such as water, food and energy, wetlands offer significant opportunities for tourism, which can in turn deliver economic benefits for local communities and the sustainable management of wetlands.

Revival of wetlands, as in the case of Ein Afek Nature Reserve in Israel, is important for not only nature conservation but also eco-tourism, wetland education, and ecological research. Wetlands offer a range of recreational activities include sunbathing, swimming, boating, diving, snorkeling, photography, bird-watching, and simply enjoying the landscape. If not properly managed, however, tourism can also harm wetland, as in the unfortunate case of China’s Qinghai Province where Qinghai Lake became a huge rubbish dump.

The strong connection between wetlands and tourism brought the World Wetlands Day theme for 2012 to be “Wetlands and Tourism.” Ensuring well-managed tourism practices in and around wetlands and educating tourists on the value of wetlands contributes to the health of the world’s wetlands, and the long-term benefits that wetlands provide to people, wildlife, economics, and biodiversity.

Learn more how about how to successfully use wetlands for tourism through the UNWTO’s Destination Wetlands: Supporting Sustainable Tourism; Wetlands International’s publication Factsheet Wetlands and Poverty Reduction Project or the Use of Wetlands for Sustainable Tourism Management in the Boondall Wetlands Reserve, Australia.

As the tourist industry is looking for new attractions, and with tourists’ growing awareness of environmental issues of tourists, new kind of attractions are popping up: landfills and cleantech facilities.

Hiriya -Turning Landfills and Cleantech Facilities into a Tourist AttractionA few places around the world have transformed former landfills into nature parks. The Hiriya Center for Environmental Education in Israel, for example, attracts domestic and international tourists as well as professional visitors. Another example is the former landfill in Hangzhou, China, where tourists can visit its trash-to-gas power plant, play environmental video games, and hike in an eco-park the size of 10 football fields.

Cleantech facilities also serve as a tourist attraction that educate and offer experiential activities. The Solar Garden in Binyamina, Israel, is one such an educational initiative designed to promote awareness and use of green energy sources and environmental technologies (CleanTech) amongst the Israeli public. It was intentionally built in a place easily accessible with public transportation.

Another example is the Singapore National Water Agency’s NEWater Visitor Centre that promises a fun-filled and enriching time for all its guests with its free daily tours and educational workshops. There, one can learn of the water treatment and water planning of technological Singapore.

One particularly innovative attraction is the Pool+ project in Manhattan, which will be a floating pool in the Hudson River that would filter the river’s water through the pool walls, making it possible for New Yorkers and visitors to swim in clean river water, with pool fees helping to clean the river. This unique pool is thus a water filtration plant and a visitor attraction.

So what can you do? In addition to visiting and spreading the word about such attractions, if you have cleantech facilities in your hotel/lodge, share this information with the guests and make it an educational experience for them.

Remember to share it with us, too!

2015 PATA Grand Award– Environment
The Success of Self-reliance
Jetwing Yala, Yala, Sri Lanka

Jetwing YalaAkin to a phoenix rising from the ashes – recovering after a decade from the devastating tsunami of 2004 – Jetwing brings a truly ‘at-one-with-nature’ concept to a more refined and elegant form with Jetwing Yala. Set within the immediate outskirts of the Yala National Park, Jetwing Yala boasts a tremendous commitment to sustainability and the environment, bringing a wildlife experience complemented with the finest in luxury and comfort. Designed by renowned architect Murad Ismail, the 90 room property overlooks spectacular sand dunes and the Indian Ocean and is a landmark that changes the face of the deep south of Sri Lanka. Jetwing Yala has been created from ground up to be as sustainable as possible with the intention of conserving energy and resources, reusing and recycling and being a part of the environment whilst causing no harm to nature.

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UNEP CBD - Tourism Supporting Biodiversity

A healthy natural environment is one of the world’s most important tourism attractions, and that visiting nature serves to heighten awareness of its intrinsic value for us all, a new manual launched by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) presents guidelines on sustainable tourism and management.

Geared towards being both practical and accessible, Tourism Supporting Biodiversity: A Manual on applying the CBD Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development, highlights the important role tourism plays for biodiversity and aims to improve knowledge and materials to better integrate biodiversity into sustainable tourism development.

“The manual is a reference tool for planners, developers, managers and decision makers involved with tourism development and resource management in areas of sensitive biodiversity,” said Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, CBD Executive Secretary. “The purpose is to help them to mainstream biodiversity concerns and ecosystem services within sustainable tourism development.”

With its emphasis on management and governance, the manual, prepared as a result of experiences compiled by the Secretariat and decisions taken by countries at the eleventh and twelfth meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD, reflects a wider perspective on approaches and experiences in sustainable tourism development and management. It serves to complement the more technical User’s Manual on the CBD Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development, published in 2007.

The manual is the result of a collaboration between the CBD Secretariat, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and some 140 experts from around the world to identify current trends and upcoming issues and opportunities on the links between sustainable tourism development and the CBD agenda, and is meant to be used as a transformative tool for sustainable consumption.

 

 

Download PDF here

 

FINALIST – 2015 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards, Best in Community Engagement & Development

IMG_2626-e1440147722754Creating unforgettable learning experiences in the Cambodian provinces of Kratie and Stung Treng, CRDTours works closely with their partner NGO, CRDT (Cambodian Rural Development Team) to create sustainable changes through community-based tourism initiatives, such as rural development and environmental conservation.

Not only does CRDTours give tourists hands-on cultural experiences, such as whipping up local dishes with their host families, attending traditional religious blessings, and participating in on-going development projects identified by the local communities. But they also make sure the local communities don’t become overly dependent on tourism as a livelihood source by limiting the carrying capacity of visitors to Koh P’dao, an island nestled in the mighty Mekong river and home to a number of their tourist programs.

By expanding their community development tours’ projects to include chicken and pig raising and building toilets and rainwater collection systems, CRDTours is able to reach more beneficiaries and maximize long term benefits while also developing non-tourist centric methods of livelihood such as livestock raising, maintaining home gardens, and environmental education.

Mobilizing local communities key to CRDTours’ success. They are trusted by the local community, provide trainings and improve community awareness about issues such as environmental conservation. During village demonstrations, events, and livelihood trainings focused on deforestation and environmental awareness, 60% of beneficiaries were able to raise at least 3 environmental issues, such as illegal fishing and climate change present in their community and offer solutions.

CRDTours actively involves the local  community members, encouraging them to play a role in development and environmental conservation initiatives, which include:

  • Finding alternative livelihoods to slow/stop the depletion of natural resources
  • Raising awareness about the impact of unsustainable natural resources and gradually change the community’s behavior towards the environment
  • Promoting ecotourism as an incentive for community members to stop harming wildlife and take action to protect it

Ecotourism has been an incentive for communities to protect their rare, Irrawaddy dolphin neighbors and make them proud of their community. Over a quarter of the Community Based Ecotourism (CBET) annual development fund was given to the community fishery for river patrolling. By 2013 community beneficiaries stopped using gillnets (which dolphins are known to get caught in) close to the known dolphin pool and reduced their time spent fishing by 45%. Thanks to the complete removal of gillnets in the area, two baby dolphins were born in the Koh P’dao pool earlier this year.

CRDTours website