23/05/2002
Press Release
UNEP/113



Québec DECLARATION ON ECOTOURISM DEFINES


BASIS FOR ITS INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT


QUÉBEC CITY, 22 May (UNEP) -- It was with the immense satisfaction of a job well done that the 1,200 or so delegates, from 133 different countries, wrapped up the first World Ecotourism Summit this evening, with the Québec Declaration on Ecotourism, a new tool for the international development of this type of tourism  -- already in high demand throughout the planet.  The document will be officially tabled at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, in August, in Johannesburg.


"I have never witnessed such active participation at a summit on tourism", declared the Honourable Judd Buchanan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Tourism Commission.  We were expecting 500 to 600 delegates, and twice as many countries have shown up in Québec.  The over 1,100 participants, including officials from about 40 different government ministries and representatives from countries where tourism is not yet an emerging industry, constitute a very encouraging start for the future of ecotourism."


"I am convinced", said the Assistant Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (WTO), David de Villiers, that the Québec Declaration on Ecotourism will become the point of reference for all future discussion and debate.  This Summit, held in Québec City, and the Declaration are important steps, however a lot of work remains to be done, notably in the fight against poverty -- a cause ecotourism can contribute to."


"The impressive number of stakeholders and ecotourism practitioners that were able to participate in the Summit offers great hope for the full implementation of the Québec Declaration", stated Oliver Hillel, Tourism Programme Coordinator for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).  "Through implementation of agreed guidelines, principles and standards, the follow-up regional consultations and concrete demonstration projects, the first-ever Ecotourism Summit has signaled that ecotourism, in practice, can contribute to poverty alleviation and environmental protection, the twin goals of the upcoming Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development."


"The Québec Declaration signifies that from now on, ecotourism must be considered a privileged tool, leading the way and paving the road towards a tourism that is truly sustainable", declared the Minister responsible for Youth, Tourism, Recreation and Sport and Minister responsible for Wildlife and Parks, Richard Legendre.  "It is an expression of our belief that sustainable tourism can contribute to the more global effort of protecting the sustainability of our planet's resources.  The debate and discussions of the past few days have allowed us to determine that Québec is on the right path."



During the last three days, Québec Summit participants have worked hard to clarify the concept of ecotourism.  A consensus has been reached on many issues, but many other questions must be explored further.  The delegates have defined what actions should be addressed in a collaborative effort by all stakeholders involved in ecotourism, to ensure it can continue to develop harmoniously, while respecting the environment, fragile ecosystems and local populations.  Major issues facing ecotourism have been debated:  Ecotourism Policy and Planning; Regulation of Ecotourism; Product Development, Marketing and Promotion of Ecotourism; Monitoring Costs and Benefits of Ecotourism


Brought together for the first time for the World Ecotourism Summit, all key players are invited to implement the recommendations of the Québec Declaration on Ecotourism, not only in Québec, in the whole of Canada, and in all countries participating in the Summit as well as in all other countries where tourism constitutes a flourishing developing industry.


Tourisme Québec 's mission is to foster the growth of the tourism industry in Québec.  To do so, Tourisme Québec concentrates its resources and efforts in three areas:  directs and focuses government and private actions related to tourism; develops and maintains the tourism offering; as well as marketing Québec and its tourist attractions.


The World Tourism Organization (WTO) is an inter-governmental body entrusted by the United Nations with the promotion and development of tourism.  Through tourism, WTO aims to stimulate economic growth and job creation, provide incentives for protecting the environment and heritage of destinations, and promote peace and understanding among all nations of the world.


The UNEP provides leadership and encourages partnerships in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.  Through its Tourism Programme, it promotes sustainable tourism among government agencies and the industry; develops tools for protected/sensitive area management; and supports implementation of multilateral environmental agreements related to tourism.


Major follow-up activities include the October 2002 International Ecotourism Conference in Cairns, Australia, and the Bishkek Mountain Summit, the culminating event of the 2002 International Year of the Mountains, to be held in Kyrgyzstan in November 2002.  Concrete UNEP projects include the Tour Operators Initiative for Sustainable Tourism development, with WTO and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), promotion of the Convention on Biological Diversity's Guidelines for Sustainable Tourism in Vulnerable Ecosystems and the UNEP Principles for Sustainable Tourism; the further development and implementation of the tourism components of the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN), the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) and the Mountain Commons project; and the further expansion of the awareness of best practices through the online Ecotourism Databank.


Visit the Summit Web site at: www.ecotourism2002.org.


For further information, please contact:  Jim Sniffen, UNEP Information Officer, New York, Tel:  1-212-963-8094; e-mail:  sniffenj@un.org.