The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has today launched a new initiative for the Travel & Tourism sector to join the global fight against illegal wildlife trade. The ‘Buenos Aires Declaration on Travel & Tourism and Illegal Wildlife Trade’ sets out specific actions that the sector can take to address this challenge.
Speaking at WTTC’s Global Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO said “WTTC is proud to be undertaking this new initiative which aims to ensure that our sector is fully engaged in the fight against illegal wildlife trade. This challenge has been identified by our Members as a priority for our sector. Wildlife tourism is a significant generator of income for communities around the world, particularly in least developed countries (LDCs) and the illegal wildlife trade puts at risk not only the biodiversity of our world, but also the livelihoods of these communities. The Buenos Aires Declaration provides a framework for the Travel & Tourism sector to co-ordinate and consolidate actions to address it.”
The Declaration consists of four pillars:
1. Expression and demonstration of agreement to tackle the illegal wildlife trade
2. Promotion of responsible wildlife-based tourism
3. Awareness raising among customers, staff and trade networks
4. Engaging with local communities and investing locally
Specific activities within the pillars include selling only wildlife products that are legal and sustainably sourced, and that meet CITES requirements; promoting only responsible wildlife-based tourism; training staff to detect, identify and report suspected illegal trade in wildlife; and educating consumers as to how they can tackle the problem, including by not buying illegal or unsustainably sourced wildlife products.
Fundamental to the declaration is the role Travel & Tourism can play in providing sustainable livelihoods for those who live and work alongside endangered flora and fauna, and at risk of being illegally traded. This includes promoting the benefits of wild-life tourism and ensuring that wildlife-based tourism positively impacts its local communities, while identifying and encouraging opportunities for investment in local infrastructure, human capital and community development.
John Scanlon, Special Envoy for African Parks and former Secretary General of the International Convention in Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) said: “It is fantastic to see the Travel & Tourism sector join the global fight against illegal wildlife trade. In many places where poaching takes place for illegal trade, Travel & Tourism is one of the few economic opportunities available. Maximising the opportunities for local communities and ensuring that they benefit from wildlife-based tourism, is one of the best ways to stem the flow of illegal trade at its source. On the demand side, with its huge global reach and growing consumer base, Travel & Tourism has a big responsibility to help raise awareness among its customers about wildlife trade and the devastating impacts of illegal wildlife trade.”
Gary Chapman, President Group Services and Dnata, Emirates Group said: “Emirates has been actively committed to the fight against illegal wildlife trade for some years now and we are delighted to support this initiative serving the broader Travel & Tourism sector, which clearly has such a critical role to play particularly within the communities who are most affected by this activity.”
Gerald Lawless, immediate past chair of WTTC, concluded: “As a long-term member and former Chair of WTTC I am delighted that this initiative is underway. I would like to thank the more than 40 Members who have signed the Declaration so far. WTTC research shows that Travel & Tourism accounts for over 9% of GDP in countries such as Kenya and Tanzania, generating jobs for 1 in 11 people. As global Travel & Tourism companies, we can play a substantial and active role to tackle illegal wildlife trade. However, we cannot do this alone and I call on other organisations, both public and private sector, and NGOs already engaged in this fight, to join us by signing the Declaration as we work together to grow wildlife-tourism sustainably and use our reach to stem both the supply and demand for illegal wildlife products around the world.”
Signatories to the Declaration at its launch include: WTTC, Abercrombie & Kent, AIG, American Express, Amex GBT, Best Day Travel Group, BTG, Ctrip, Dallas Fort Worth Airport, DUFRY, Emaar Hospitality, Emirates, Europamundo, Eurotur, Exo Travel, Google, Grupo Security, Hilton, Hogg Robinson, Hyatt, IC Bellagio, Intrepid, JLL, Journey Mexico, JTB, Mandarin Oriental, Marriott, Mystic Invest, National Geographic, Rajah Travel Corporation, RCCL, Silversea Cruises, Swain Destinations, Tauck Inc, Thomas Cook, Travel Corporation, TripAdvisor, TUI, Value Retail, Virtuoso, V&A Waterfront, City Sightseeing, Airbnb, Grupo Puntacana, Amadeus