UN agency chief marks World Tourism Day with call for greener industry

27 September 2008 – Global tourism can play a much bigger role in efforts to combat climate change and alleviate poverty if industry operators and governments change their habits and adopt greener and more sustainable technology and practices, the head of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Francesco Frangialli, Secretary-General of the Madrid-based agency, said in a message to mark World Tourism Day – which is being observed today – that the tourism sector needs to move more quickly towards becoming carbon-neutral.

“We encourage urgent adaptation of a range of policies which promote sustainable tourism that reflects environmental, socio-economic and climate responsiveness,” he said.

Responding to the challenges posed by climate change is the theme of this year’s Day, and Mr. Frangialli noted that the UNWTO had stepped up its efforts over the last year to press the tourism industry to become as close to carbon-neutral as possible.

“Our call to action is hence to change habits and position renewable energy at the forefront of international response by promoting the action-oriented Davos Declaration Process, encouraging tourism stakeholders to adapt, to mitigate and use new technology and secure financing for the poorest countries to face the challenge of climate change.”

UNWTO is hosting a think-tank in Lima, Peru, today in which government tourism ministers, industry officials and operators will gather to discuss possible solutions and strategies to help mitigate climate change, especially in developing countries, where the industry is often a major source of employment and income.

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