Secretary-General Message for 2010
I am delighted that the UN World Tourism Organization is celebrating this year’s World Tourism Day under the theme ‘Tourism and Biodiversity’. Despite repeated global pledges to protect the planet’s species and habitats – and the goods and services they provide – the variety of life on Earth continues to decline at an unprecedented rate. Human activities are the cause. This year – the International Year of Biodiversity – provides a timely opportunity to focus on the urgency of safeguarding biodiversity for the wealth, health and well-being of people in all regions of the world.
Tourism and biodiversity are closely intertwined. Millions of people travel each year to experience nature’s splendour. The income generated by sustainable tourism can provide important support for nature conservation, as well as for economic development. Furthermore, sustainable tourism can help to raise awareness among tourists and local communities of the importance of biodiversity to our everyday lives.
Through initiatives such as its “Sustainable Tourism – Eliminating Poverty” project, and its collaboration with the UN family, national tourism authorities and the private sector, the World Tourism Organization is helping to highlight the links between tourism, poverty alleviation and biodiversity. The tourism community is becoming increasingly aware of its responsibility. And indeed there is much the sector can contribute to protecting biodiversity, including by integrating simple measures such as managing tour groups to minimize disturbance to wildlife or buying supplies only from sustainable sources.
On this World Tourism Day, I commend the tourism community for its growing recognition of the importance of conserving the diversity of life on Earth, and I urge all partners to strengthen their commitment to sustainability.