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10 tips for eco tourists from IUCN

April 21, 2011

Top ten tips for eco-tourists - IUCN

Gland, Switzerland 21 April, 2011 - With many people starting to plan their annual holidays, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has released a list of top ten tips for tourists who want to visit some of the most beautiful natural sites in the world without damaging the environment.

Tips range from choosing eco-hotels and being mindful of your carbon footprint to avoiding buying souvenirs made from endangered species and making sure you know that what you're eating isn't under threat.

The tips accompany a recent report by IUCN, 'Sustainable tourism in natural World Heritage', which shows that tourism, if managed properly, can contribute to both conservation and development goals in or near natural World Heritage Sites. From a conservation point of view, tourism can raise funds for protecting natural areas, enhance awareness amongst locals and tourists of biodiversity and conservation issues, as well as discourage local people from carrying out activities that are harmful to nature. The report sets out a range of factors that support and hinder sustainable tourism development in World Heritage sites.

"Careful planning is at the heart of ensuring that World Heritage sites benefit from the high profile that comes with their global status, through collaboration between the private sector, local communities and site managers," says Giulia Carbone, Deputy Director of IUCN's Global Business and Biodiversity Programme. "If managed sustainably, World Heritage sites can give tourists the opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful places that the world has to offer while benefitting the natural environment at the same time."

More than two million tourists visit the Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area in China each year, generating an annual turnover of US$ 200 million. Effective management of the tourist trade, such as by using a 'green' bus system to ferry tourists around, allowing no other transport within the park's boundaries and banning visitors from staying in the park overnight, have led to Jiuzhaigou being seen as a model for other protected areas in China. Continued careful planning is needed to ensure that such high visitor numbers and the mushrooming of hotels and restaurants just outside the park's boundaries doesn't put the long-term sustainability of the site at risk.

"From a development perspective, income from tourism may reduce poverty by creating jobs, which can in turn help with biodiversity conservation. Many conservation organisations are seeing the value of setting up small businesses that are based on or benefit the environment," says Tim Badman, Director of IUCN's World Heritage Programme. "However, if tourism is badly planned and not managed responsibly, it can lead to biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation and negative impacts to local communities."

The report outlines several World Heritage sites which have suffered from the impacts of tourism, one of them being the Belize Barrier Reef System where uncontrolled lease and development of land for tourism within the site has led to it being included on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2009 Some of the environmental impacts of this include mangrove cutting and coral dredging.

For the Top ten tips for eco-tourists and the report 'Sustainable tourism in natural World Heritage' go to:

IUCN manages a number of projects focusing on improving the sustainability of tourism. In particular, the Global Business and Biodiversity Programme has developed guidelines for the hotel sector on the sustainable use of biological resources in hotel operations and, in partnership with tour operators, supports the transfer of business skills to conservation organization-run ecotourism enterprises. For more information go to:

About IUCN

IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN is the world's oldest and largest global environmental organization, with more than 1,000 government and NGO members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries.

Source: Scoop World
Photo Source: IUCN

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