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A new global initiative to combat illegal wildlife trade has won the support of more than 100 travel and tourism businesses, associations, media organisations, NGOs and destinations.
They have signed the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Buenos Aires declaration on illegal wildlife trade, which was launched in April.
The aim is to work together towards a common goal of changing behaviour of one billion travellers as it relates to illegal wildlife trade.
WTTC and WWF forged a partnership to deliver on the priorities set out in the Buenos Aires declaration, including the development of zero tolerance policies and industry guidelines, sharing best practice and driving consumer awareness.
Signatories include some of the world’s largest industry brands, including Hilton, which last week announced its ‘Big Five’ to sustainable tourism in Africa; and C-Trip, which made a new commitment to educate its massive consumer base on illegal wildlife trade.
WTTC, WWF and other partners including Google and C-trip are working on plans to use digital technology and the power of distribution networks to change behaviour of one billion travellers.
WTTC has introduced a new ‘Changemakers’ category in its annual Tourism for Tomorrow Awards to showcase companies who are leading the way in fighting illegal wildlife trade through tourism. Applications for entries close on November 14.
Speaking at the Illegal Wildlife Trade conference in London, WTTC president and CEO Gloria Guevara said: “Wildlife is a key driver of tourism activity and job creation, particularly in countries across Africa, Asia and South America and protecting endangered species is vital for the sustainable future of our sector and those whose livelihoods depend on it.
“In addition, with 1.3 billion international travellers each year there is an enormous opportunity to educate our consumers on how they can support the global fight against illegal wildlife trade.”
Guevara added: “We are delighted to be working with WWF to bring together the power of major tourism players to fight the illegal wildlife trade.
“Illegal wildlife trade is the world’s fourth largest criminal activity, generating $23 billion a year in revenue and the travel and tourism sector has a vital role to play not only in stemming demand through consumer awareness, but also by providing sustainable livelihoods for communities on the ground where poaching takes place.
“There is significant evidence to show that sustainable community-based tourism can eradicate poaching completely.”
She continued: “Through the power of our collective knowledge and resources we will harness this opportunity to make significant change in how travellers buy both travel products and souvenirs.
“I would like to thank all our signatories and WWF for their commitment and support in this endeavour and encourage other organisations who are able to play a role in this ambition to get in touch and join our fight.”