Preserving Life below Water through tourism
Oceans are extremely sensitive and fragile, and land, fresh water and other natural resources are often scarce on coasts. This is due, in part, to the pressure of development and other activities in these areas, including tourism. It is, therefore, imperative that policy frameworks be strengthened and effective governance provided to support sustainable coastal tourism. Such sustainability can be further enhanced by integrating planning for tourism into a wider coastal management context, strengthening the assessment of tourism development projects, improving the monitoring and management of tourism enterprises, and pursuing greater benefits for conservation and local communities.
The year 2017 has been declared the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. This is a unique opportunity to advance our efforts to place the tourism sector at the core of coastal management and ensure that the conservation and preservation of marine and terrestrial ecosystems are put at the service of the ‘blue economy’.
Sustainable Development Goal 14 is aimed at conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Its target 14.7 explicitly calls on the international community to “increase the economic benefits to small island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism” by 2030. The tourism sector has committed itself to working towards the protection of the seas and oceans so that future generations can enjoy them, while recognizing that the long-term economic potential of tourism depends on the development of sustainable practices, and ensuring that further human impact on marine ecosystems is minimal.
As we approach the Ocean Conference, to be held from 5 to 9 June 2017 in New York, we call upon the tourism sector to demonstrate its pledge to sustainable development through voluntary commitments, and to take the lead on this common challenge for humanity.
By Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)