Sustainability and Tourism - How Can They Fit together?

Bonn, 22 May 2017 -  Today we celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity. This year CBD and its partners want to highlight the interdependence between biodiversity and sustainable tourism. When most people think about tourism, they often think of organized tours or crowded beaches. However, tourism can also contribute to creating a sustainable future.

Migratory species such as birds, sharks, whales and dolphins can provide opportunities for sustainable tourism. Wildlife watching tours can raise environmental awareness without disturbing the animals or degrading their habitats. In order to avoid disturbances, it is important to consider the animals’ needs. However, in many cases, wildlife watching tours proved to cause changes in wildlife behaviour, ecology or to habitats. Studies have shown that some individual animals spend more time avoiding the disturbance than feeding or resting.

A noticeable example for sustainable tourism is “Their Future, Our Future” a project conducted by the Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines (LAMAVE). LAMAVE wants to promote guidelines for the interaction between tourists and wildlife. In five one-minute videos, local communities present rules for best wildlife watching behaviour with regard to certain marine species. Those rules include guidelines such as “Don’t use flashlights” or “Keep a distance from wildlife.” The overall goal is to prevent tourists from disturbing the animals or degrading their habitats.  A flagship species of the COP is the Whale Shark that needs much space in the water because of its large fins. Therefore, it is recommended to keep a distance of at least 3 metres from the Whale Shark’s body and 4 metres from its fins. All these videos are promoted through a social media campaign to raise awareness among tourists. Sustainable tourism as promoted by LAMAVE highlights its potential contribution to conservation.

The Aichi Biodiversity Targets, to be achieved by 2020, refer to this kind of tourism. The very first Target calls for the fact that “people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps people can take to conserve and use it sustainably.”

CMS COP12, which is to be held in October in Manila, has selected the theme “Their Future is Our Future – Sustainable Development for Wildlife and People”. At the conference, the protected afforded to the Whale Shark may be upgraded by adding it to Appendix I.

Last updated on 22 May 2017

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