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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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By sharing their knowledge and their passion, the diving industry has recently guided the development of nine brand new “Green Fins How-to-videos”, designed to guide business managers how to easily implement the Code of Conduct and to show divers exactly what they should expect from an environmentally friendly dive centre.

They will be completely free for anyone to see and to use; you don’t even need to be working for a Green Fins member! Just follow the Green Fins website, YouTube channel, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to become part of the community and see sustainable diving in action!

Video #9: Eco Friendly Cleaning Tips for Diving and Snorkelling

This video aims to show dive centre owners and/or managers simple ways in which harmful discharge can be reduced by replacing chemical cleaning products with environmentally friendly ones.

 

Video #8: How To Make Reusable Tank Caps

This video outlines the issue of using masking tape to separate tanks and provides a very simple solution to dive operators shown as a step to step guide on how to make their own tanks caps. A long-term and sustainable solution.

 

Video #7: Implement Good Garbage Management Practices

This video aims to provide management and staff with simple guidance points on how they can properly manage their garbage so that it does not contribute to the global problem of marine debris.

 

Video #6: How to Use Alternatives To Anchoring

This video aims to show dive centre management alternatives for the use of anchors. Anchoring can devastate fragile marine ecosystems in a matter of seconds, to avoid the impact on the marine environment the video shows alternatives that can be easily implemented in different locations

 

Video #5: Guiding Divers Towards Best Environmental Practice

This video aims to provide management and staff with simple guidance points on how an instructor or dive guide can correct customer behaviour underwater for best environmental practice. By clearly understanding what behaviour can cause damage to the environment and how it can be corrected, instructors and guides can help their guests protect coral reefs.

Video #4: How to Give an Environmental Boat Briefing 

Sometimes it’s difficult to believe that your actions could change whole ecosystems but divers on boats have the potential to do just that. Throwing trash, cigarettes or food waste into the ocean can poison marine life and change their behaviour. The new Green Fins How-to-video shows dive guides and managers how they can include simple, environmental reminders in their boat briefings to help divers protect the ocean and their favourite marine life.

For this year’s World Oceans Day, Green Fin asked their top members to answer the question “What do you do to protect the oceans? “

 

Video #3: Implementing Good Garbage Management on Boats

Divers travel far distances to see the most unique marine environments, they wouldn’t like to dive on a polluted ocean. As we all know, marine debris is one of the biggest problems oceans are facing and the diving industry can have a big environmental impact if no measures are taken. For this reason, the new Green Fins How-to- video covers this problem by providing practical solutions to dive centre owners and managers on ways their in boat practices can have less or no environmental impacts. By implementing these simple tips and making it clear to your staff and guests, you will be part of the solution, not the problem!

 

 

Video #2: How-to-Manage Underwater Photographers

The second Green Fins How-to-video shows divers the threat they can pose to marine life when taking a camera underwater and how dive guides and instructors can support customers to be responsible photographers. Divers rely directly on the health of the marine environment. So it’s the responsibility of the diving community to do everything within their power to protect what they love.

 

 

Video #1: Pre-Dive Environmental Briefings

The first Green Fins How-to-video showcases one of the most important things a dive centre can do to protect the ocean it depends on. It outlines exactly what a dive guide should say to inspire divers to be responsible right before jumping in the water.

The Pre-dive briefing is the perfect opportunity to learn more from their guides about how they can protect the environment, becoming a steward for the ocean and a stronger member of the diving community.

Divers rely directly on the health of the marine environment. So it’s the responsibility of the diving community to do everything within their power to protect what they love. These videos will show you how.

 

 

 

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Severe bleaching last year on the northern Great Barrier Reef affected even the largest and oldest corals, like this slow-growing Porites colony.
TERRY HUGHES ET AL. / NATURE

SYDNEY, Australia — The Great Barrier Reef in Australia has long been one of the world’s most magnificent natural wonders, so enormous it can be seen from space, so beautiful it can move visitors to tears.

But the reef, and the profusion of sea creatures living near it, are in profound trouble.

Huge sections of the Great Barrier Reef, stretching across hundreds of miles of its most pristine northern sector, were recently found to be dead, killed last year by overheated seawater. More southerly sections around the middle of the reef that barely escaped then are bleaching now, a potential precursor to another die-off that could rob some of the reef’s most visited areas of color and life. Read more here.

From The New York Times. By Damien Cave and Justin Gillis.

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Local and National Governments of the Philippines Commit to Country’s Largest Critical Habitat Designation

Newly Declared Critical Habitat In Palawan

Members of the Batak tribe fishing in Palawan, the Philippines (Photo by Robin Moore) | Photo source: Global Wildlife Conservation

One of the world’s most critical and irreplaceable areas for unique and threatened wildlife—in addition to the home to the last 200 – 300 members of the indigenous Batak tribe—has received the largest critical habitat designation in the Philippines.

The newly declared Cleopatra’s Needle Critical Habitat, which protects more than 100,000 acres of forest on the lush island of Palawan, is the culmination of a three-year project led by the Centre for Sustainability, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, City Environment and Natural Resources Office of Puerto Princesa and the Batak tribe, with support from Global Wildlife Conservation, Rainforest Trust and the Amphibian Survival Alliance. By Lindsay Renick Mayer. Read more.

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Air China bans shark fin cargo, reflecting dramatic shift in attitudes

Categories: Asia, Private Sector, Recommended Reading, Sea, Wildlife
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shark-fins

Air China has become the first airline in mainland China to ban shark fin cargo, marking a dramatic shift in attitudes toward trade in endangered wildlife here and throwing a lifeline to shark populations threatened with imminent extinction.

The news, released late Friday, came just a week after China announced plans to ban its domestic ivory trade, a landmark decision of vital importance in ending an epidemic of elephant poaching in Africa.

It marks the country’s gradual transformation from being the biggest source of the problem — as the largest market in illegal wildlife products — to becoming a major part of the solution. By Simon Denyer. Read more.

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China to Shut Down Its Ivory Trade by the End of 2017

Categories: Asia, Planet, Recommended Reading, Wildlife, Wildlife
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Advocates applaud the move by the world’s largest consumer of ivory, saying it could help save Africa’s remaining elephants.

With African elephant populations plummeting because of poaching for the ivory trade, China's announcement that it will phase out its legal market by the end of next year comes as welcome news to advocates. PHOTOGRAPH BY BRENT STIRTON, GETTY IMAGES, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

With African elephant populations plummeting because of poaching for the ivory trade, China’s announcement that it will phase out its legal market by the end of next year comes as welcome news to advocates.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRENT STIRTON, GETTY IMAGES, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

China will shut down its domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017, according to an announcement made today by the Chinese government.

The announcement comes more than a year after China’s President Xi Jinping and United States President Barack Obama pledged to enact “nearly complete bans” on the import and export of ivory, an agreement Wildlife Watch reporter Rachael Bale described as “the most significant step yet in efforts to shut down an industry that has fueled the illegal hunting of elephants.” – By Jani Actman. Read more on National Geographic

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How to influence supply chains to effect change at scale: interview with WWF’s Jim Sano

Categories: Americas, Cruise, Featured Post, Private Sector, Tour Operator, Wildlife
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James Sano, Vice President for Travel, Tourism and Conservation, WWF at GSTC Conference in Suwon, Korea presenting the partnership between WWF, Royal Caribbean Cruises and GSTC.

James Sano, Vice President for Travel, Tourism and Conservation, WWF at GSTC Conference in Suwon, Korea presenting the partnership between WWF, Royal Caribbean Cruises and GSTC.

For this interview Anula Galewska spoke with Jim Sano, Vice President for Travel, Tourism and Conservation, WWF, about the partnership between WWF and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Jim serves as the senior advisor on sustainable tourism programs and develops new initiatives to engage WWF’s most committed supporters. He was formerly President of Geographic Expeditions, a San Francisco-based adventure travel company that offers educational travel, location management, and sustainable travel consulting services.
Prior to joining Geographic Expeditions, Jim served as a ranger and special assistant to the Superintendent at Yosemite National Park in California. Jim was on WWF’s National Council for 10 years and is an Emeritus Board Member of the Trust for Public Land.

This article is part of the interview series with Speakers of the GSTC Conferences in Suwon, Korea and Athens, Greece held in October and November 2016.

Anula: How did WWF come to be partnering with Royal Caribbean Cruises?

Jim: Earlier this year, WWF and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd entered into a five-year partnership that focuses on ensuring the long-term health of the oceans. Over the next five years, our global partnership will work to achieve several ambitious and measurable sustainability targets that will reduce the company’s environmental footprint, support WWF’s global oceans conservation work, and raise awareness among the company’s more than 5 million passengers about the importance of ocean conservation.

The targets include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, responsibly sourcing food, including seafood, and promoting more sustainable tourism operations and destinations. For example in sustainable tourism, Royal Caribbean will offer guests at least 1,000 shore excursions by operators certified to the GSTC standard by 2020. Learn more about all of Royal Caribbean’s 2020 environmental sustainability targets on our website.

Anula: How is this partnership encouraging suppliers to improve their sustainability standards?

Jim: Improving sustainable tour operations through the company’s suppliers is one of the primary goals of the partnership. RCL has worked with many of their tour operators to improve sustainability over the years, and as a great first step, these operators have conducted internal assessments and some have been certified or recognized against international sustainability standards. Getting GSTC-recognized certification is the next step in this process.

One of the strategies we are working on with Royal Caribbean is to add a sustainability preference into their responsible tour sourcing policy. RCL will give preference to tour operators who have made progress towards certification or have been certified against a GSTC standard. Not everyone will be certified by 2020, but the new sourcing policy will be in place by 2018, encouraging tour operators to begin the certification process.

Of course we need to be realistic as it is not always possible to get 100% of suppliers certified, especially in places where there is only one company capable of delivering the service.

Through this commitment, Royal Caribbean is be sending an important signal about the importance of GSTC. And, more and more, we’re seeing a shift towards sustainability in the tourism market. Having a large company like Royal Caribbean endorse the GSTC standard will hopefully spur others to follow suit.

Sano

Dirk Glaesser (Director, Sustainable Development of Tourism, UNWTO), Jim Sano (Vice President for Travel, Tourism and Conservation, WWF) and Randy Durband (GSTC CEO)

Anula: So another aim has to be educate the customer about conservation issues and the project itself?

Jim: We want to increase consumer awareness of GSTC as the leading tourism sustainability standard. In the future we hope that all certified suppliers will be able to use the GSTC logo. By increasing awareness of the GSTC logo, we hope to create a brand like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and reduce the confusion caused by the proliferation of ecotourism labels in the marketplace.

As part of this partnership, we’re actively working to educate Royal Caribbean’s guests about ocean conservation. We’re developing educational content across three brands, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises. There’s a special edition of WWF’s magazine, “WWF At Sea,” in every stateroom across these brands. We also have dedicated oceans-focused programming on the stateroom tv channel.

In April 2016 Royal Caribbean committed to combatting wildlife crime, through an event organized by the White House and the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance. To support this commitment, WWF is developing educational materials on smart shopping while in port – advising Royal Caribbean’s guests what to look out for and what not to buy. WWF is also developing a special guide about sharks and rays, to provide best practices on how to conduct tours in an ecologically-sensitive manner. We hope this will provide needed guidance to the industry as a whole, and not just Royal Caribbean.

Anula: Do you also have any special education programs for the staff?

Jim: Yes. We know that educating the crew is going to be critical in building awareness with guests. The staff, whether its cruise directors or waiters, are allies in helping spread our message on board the ships. We are in the process of developing trainings and content on a variety of topics – from sustainable seafood to wildlife crime.

We plan to leverage the experience of the tour operator Natural Habitat Adventures. Their training programs have proved to be a success, so we want to do a similar thing with the Royal Caribbean.

Anula: Why did WWF decide to work with Royal Caribbean?

Jim: Our oceans under threat. According to WWF’s Living Blue Planet Report, in the last four decades populations of some marine mammals, birds, reptiles and fish have declined on average by half. The loss of mangroves—perhaps one of the most valuable habitats on the planet—is estimated to be occurring at a rate three to five times that of the loss of rainforest. If we are going to reverse the downward trends, we must take bold steps to repair, restore and protect the oceans.

We believe it is important to harness the power of the global marketplace as a force for conservation. Our objective in partnering with Royal Caribbean is to contribute to the conservation of important ocean ecosystems and safeguard vital natural marine resources for generations to come. And, we hope to inspire other companies in the tourism sector to become more sustainable.

So one of the reasons why we work with big travel companies is to create a certain amount of critical mass, which has a profound influence on smaller companies to behave more sustainably. If you want to know more about why WWF works with these big players, watch this TED Talk by Jason Clay. In tourism we followed the same principle, and this is how we started working with Royal Caribbean.

Jim Sano, Vice President for Travel, Tourism and Conservation, WWF

Jim Sano, Vice President for Travel, Tourism and Conservation, WWF

Anula: But big players are very often frightened to commit to sustainability. Why is that?

Jim: The travel industry, unlike other industries such as clothing, has very low margins. On top of that, tourism is a highly competitive market. The big barrier is how much money it will cost a company to raise the bar and be more sustainable.

At my former tour company, Geographic Expeditions, when we first offered tours to Nepal it was very difficult for the end customer to make a connection with a tour company. Now everyone has a nice website, and someone from customer service can answer all your questions online.

But big companies have a competitive advantage, which small ones don’t have – years of experience and a good insurance. At Geographic Expeditions our value proposition was the peace of mind. If a customer cares about sustainability and also health and safety, we offered them a customizable travel experience and the comforting feeling that all the issues had been taken care of.

We need to show these companies that sustainability and strong business fundamentals are not mutually exclusive.

Anula: How important is tourism for WWF?

Jim: This project with Royal Caribbean is our first large project in the travel and hospitality sector.

There’s a growing realization that tourism, when done right, offers a financial opportunity for countries to develop their economies responsibly and protect nature.

According to the studies we made at The Trust for Public Land, 400 national parks can create 14 million dollars in economic activity, and that offers conservation returns worth from $4 to $10 for every dollar invested.

We should be developing more case studies that present the economic benefits, and reports that showcase the compelling case for economic development and jobs creation thanks to tourism activity.

If we want governments to take tourism more seriously, we have to be able to document these numbers. Evidence and money talks, it is the only way to convince big businesses to choose sustainability as their development path.


GSTC Global Sustainable Tourism Conference took place in Suwon, Korea in October 2016. To view presentations from the past conference and learn about upcoming GSTC events, visit GSTC website.

Click here for the original article by Travindy.

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Saving coral reefs one scuba diving centre at a time

Categories: Asia, Non-Profit, Planet, Private Sector, Sea, Water, Wildlife
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I learned to scuba dive at the age of 12 and was a diving instructor by the age of 15 – pretty unusual for a girl growing up in the middle of England!

By Chloë Harvey – Reef-World’s Programmes Manager

My underwater encounters throughout those formative teenage years inspired me to study Marine Biology at university – those, coupled with my natural (and some may say tiresome) desire to learn more about the way things work.

I started off investigating marine biological and ecological functions, but have more recently moved into the area of how the industries and human processes that thrive off marine ecosystem services, impact the sustainability of our ocean planet. scuba greenfins

Tourism is currently one of the largest and fastest growing sectors in the world, generating 10 per cent of global GDP and supporting one in every 11 jobs. The Asia and Pacific region represents the major source of tourists, as well as being the number one destination for tourists worldwide – it’s underwater diving and snorkelling adventures promise vibrant coral reefs, making it a common draw for tourists.

Having lived and worked in many popular tourist destinations across Asia, I have seen first-hand the negative impacts of booming tourism. These impacts are felt socially as well as environmentally, especially by fragile natural ecosystems like coral reefs. scuba greenfins2

In response to these negative impacts I have been working with some of the leading conservation and industry voices in the region, developing a program that supports sustainability within the diving and snorkelling industry. This programme is called Green Fins, a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Reef-World Foundation led initiative. Green Fins is effecting measurable and meaningful change in core business practices and is positively influencing the way this industry works. In the below video Jim Toomey (and his cartoon friends) will take you through a fun and enchanting run through of the Green Fins approach.

Service providers are the cornerstone for sustainability and whilst diving and snorkelling activities carry significant environmental risks, if activities are well managed their opportunity to provide environmental awareness and education is enormous. There are good case studies from all over  the world highlighting how operators successfully strike a tourism/education balance. Unfortunately though, this is not commonplace.

Mass tourism often drives unsustainable practices, as businesses prioritise cashing in on the opportunity to make a quick financial gain, without consideration for the longevity of the industry.  Green Fins is working to make the industry partner with government agencies in environmental management, putting business owners in control of protecting their natural asset. The approach involves businesses voluntarily agreeing to adhere to a 15 point environmental code of conduct for diving and snorkelling activities.scuba greenfins3

The end result is a win-win – enhanced business performance and the protection of the underlying natural asset. By systematically eliminating negative environmental impacts, businesses can increase the health of coral reefs and ensure the sustainability of the ecosystem services they provide.

Businesses who are successfully applying Green Fins are also noticing a shift towards a more loyal repeat customer base that make longer stays and are willing to pay more for services. This constitutes the basic building blocks for sustainability within the industry.

The most sustainable choice no longer being a sacrifice, but the one that makes business and professional sense

The marine tourism industry is changing, and those wanting to be ahead of the game need to get on board. The change will result in the most sustainable choice no longer being a sacrifice, but the one that makes business and professional sense. Dive and snorkel industry partners and government agencies in some of the most thriving tourist destinations are using the Green Fins learning and outreach tools to apply best industry practice. Today almost 500 dive and snorkel businesses across Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines and Vietnam are leading the charge and applying Green Fins to support consistent improvement in environmental business practices.scuba greenfins4

In response to the demand, expansion to Singapore, Sri Lanka and Palau is underway, and plans for replication in the Caribbean and Mediterranean are in progress. Education and communication materials are also available in Chinese, Japanese and Korean, to ensure best practice and guidance is widely available to these growing segments of the market.

If Green Fins is available in your area, then sign up for free. If it is not available in your area then consider adopting and applying the code of conduct and guidelines within your business independently by following the dive and snorkel centre handbook.

Joining the Green Fins network means joining the only international sustainable diving and snorkelling programme, recognised by divers and leading authorities as a program which is doing exactly what it says on the tin … Greening the industry’s Fins! 

Find the original article here.

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Airport wildlife tracking tool launched to combat illegal wildlife trade

Categories: Planet, Recommended Reading, Wildlife, Wildlife
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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced the launch of an Airport Wildlife Trafficking Assessment Tool which aims to help defeat smugglers of endangered species. Developed in partnership with the World Customs Organization (WCO) with support from the USAID ROUTES Partnership, the assessment tool is being piloted at Mozambique’s Maputo International Airport in November 2016. A global rollout is planned for 2017. The tool helps airports assess their supply-chain security, intelligence and risk management, staff awareness, and reporting processes, alongside air cargo and passenger screening policy and procedures.

Find more information at the Wildlife section of the IATA website. Read more on Travindy. 

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