Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sustainable Tourism Programme by UNESCO

Sustainable Tourism Programme

The World Heritage Tourism Programme encourages sustainable tourism actions at World Heritage sites, to preserve them for future generations to appreciate. The Programme uses tourism to contribute to environmental protection, limit negative socio economic impacts and benefit local people economically and socially.
Partnerships between the tourism industry and the World Heritage Tourism Programme can help to mobilise resources for increasing technical assistance to World Heritage sites and local communities as well as test innovative ideas on public-private initiatives for site protection and conservation.
Tourism is one of the largest industries on Earth, and Cultural and Natural Heritage Tourism is a rapidly growing international sector of this industry. With millions of tourists visiting the 788 World Heritage sites each year, tourism has become an important cross cutting issue and management concern at most World Heritage sites. Site personnel and other local stakeholders lack the resources, industry experience, and in some cases, training necessary to use tourism as an effective tool for achieving long-term biodiversity conservation.
The over-riding importance of tourism to World Heritage, both as an opportunity and if poorly managed as a threat, was recognized by the World Heritage Committee when it authorized the Centre, in 2001, to develop a World Heritage Tourism Programme. This Programme's goal is to demonstrate linkages between sustainable tourism and the conservation of World Heritage and to develop tools and methods for broad tourism applications. Engagement with the tourism industry is viewed as an essential component to the Programme's activities.
The World Heritage Tourism Programme is composed of seven activities and the World Heritage Centre is proposing that the tourism industry can support either individual components of the framework and/or projects that address all seven activities.
1. Building the capacity of World Heritage site management to deal with tourism. Site assessments can determine how tourism can contribute to mitigating site threats and tourism public use plans can provide a broad vision of how site tourism can be developed and managed.
Potential Collaboration :
Develop tourism management or tourism public use plans;
Organize workshops at the site;
Offer suggestions on prioritising site attractions, conservation messages, and give management advice on planning visitor access and identifying visitor needs;
Use research of local and regional market situations to create long-term strategies for the development of tourism enterprises in communities near sites.
2. Training local community members in tourism related activities to participate in the industry and receive tourism's benefits.
Tourism services linked to protected areas can provide alternatives to high-impact land uses such as logging or mining and offer opportunities for local development, which can in turn generate community support for conservation and site management.
Potential Collaboration :
Support local nature guide training programs;
Develop skills in local natural history knowledge, conversational English, interpretation, and tour planning;
Help develop a natural history textbook for each site designed for adults with limited formal education;
Train local people in business and marketing skills for existing products that have positive impacts on conservation or help to create products that will mitigate sites' pressures.
3. Aiding communities around the sites to market their products.
The World Heritage Centre working with the tourism industry can play an important role in providing international links and raising demand for local products that offer local communities an alternative economic source to the extraction of protected area resources.
Potential collaboration :
Promote local products in hotels or tour brochures and in-flight magazines.
4. Raising public awareness of World Heritage and building pride with local communities and visitors through conservation education.
Carrying out conservation education campaigns at sites can help educate residents living in and around World Heritage sites about the global significance and the reason for its protected status.
Potential collaboration :
Sponsor conservation education campaigns for local communities;
Produce site interpretation materials for visitors.
5. Using tourism generated funds to supplement site conservation and protection costs.
Supporting actions that increase site revenue from visitor fees, concessions, or donations generated by the tourism industry are all recommended actions for generating funds from tourism.
Potential collaboration :
Contribute funds to World Heritage based on tourist visits to a site to finance specific site conservation activities;
Provide financial support in the form of donations for specific actions such as the purchase of technical material and the development of appropriate, low-impact tourism infrastructure. Examples include; a terrestrial or aquatic nature trail for visitors, and one that can be used by local nature guides, or a visitor's centre and other facilities such as wildlife viewing observation towers.
6. Spreading the lessons learned to other sites and protected areas.
Developing communication systems for an exchange of experience between site managers on tourism management best practices is a key part of the World Heritage Tourism Programme.
Potential collaboration :
Support and participate in The World Heritage Centre's regional workshops with site managers and local and national authorities. Together with the World Heritage staff, share information on the outcomes of joint initiatives and the lessons learned for private sector/public sector partnerships.
7. Building increased awareness of World Heritage and its activities and policies for tourism industry officials and their clients.
Support from company officials can generate international support for conservation efforts, change the policies of the ground operators they work with and motivate visitors to make donations to conservation and respect management regulations.
Potential collaboration :
Provide information and photographic material of World Heritage sites to inform clients via, catalogues and brochures, in-flight magazines, and hotel brochures. Prepared by the World Heritage Centre, these could include practical information on the site, describing the outstanding universal site value, and information on the UNESCO World Heritage Convention;
Organize workshops to inform hotel employees and tour guides about the World Heritage to sensitise and instruct clients when visiting the sites.
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