Tourism can play key role in preserving world’s wetlands, UN agency says

The reflection of a tree in the wetlands of Tasitolu lake, Timor-Leste. UN Photo/Martine Perret

2 February 2012 – Responsible, sustainable tourism can play a valuable role in conserving and protecting the world’s often fragile wetlands, the head of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said today.

“Wetlands, their wildlife, and the human communities in and around them can benefit directly from tourism through entry fees, sale of local products, and so on,” said Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of UNWTO.

“At the same time, the ‘use’ of wetlands as tourism locations comes with certain risks,” he added. “The challenge is to ensure that sustainable tourism practices are being implemented and bring benefits for wetlands, their wildlife and people… We would emphasize that tourism businesses, if well informed and prepared to adapt their operations, can certainly promote and support wetland biodiversity and the natural beauty of wetlands.”

UNWTO today marked World Wetlands Day, which this year has the theme of wetland tourism, by saying it will join forces with the Ramsar Convention, the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, to promote responsible tourism and recreation in wetlands worldwide.

Many wetlands, from the Okavango Delta in Southern Africa to the Danube Delta in Eastern Europe and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, are in a fragile state as a result of both human and natural forces.


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