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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!