Holidays for a Living Planet
Berlin/Nairobi, - Green travel tips for the world's growing number of international tourists were launched today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The internet-based campaign, "Green Passport", aims to raise tourists' awareness of their potential to contribute to sustainable development by making responsible holiday choices.
Achim Steiner, UN-Under Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "Tourism, the world's biggest industry is booming. By 2020, the number of international arrivals by air and by sea could reach 1.6 billion annually.
"This growth brings the prospect of income and economic development to countless tourist destinations in rich and poor countries alike. The challenge is to manage this growth sustainably. Governments have a key role to play, but so too do individuals and families when planning and going on holiday," he said.
"Many consumers are now making green domestic choices from sourcing electricity from renewable sources and choosing eco-friendly investments up to buying leaner and greener cars. Packing a Green Passport along with airline tickets, the swimming costume and the sun lotion means tourists no longer need to leave their green credentials at home but can make them part of the holiday of a life-time," added Mr Steiner.
Stefanos Fotiou, head of UNEP's tourism unit, said: "By browsing the Green Passport web site consumers will be able to find practical tips to help them reduce their environmental and social footprint while they are on vacations. Tourists will discover that traveling green is not as hard as they imagined.
In 2007, international tourist arrivals reached nearly 900 million and by the end of the decade this number is expected to reach more than one billion. As tourist numbers grow, so will their demand for energy, water, and natural resources to support their holidays.
"There are some encouraging signs in terms of market response to the problem. Tourists are increasingly expressing concern about the quality of the environment at their holiday destinations," said Fotiou. "However, there is clearly a gap to fill in order to shift from discussions on responsible holidays to concrete actions."
The new UNEP campaign will provide information to tourists to help them prevent some of their impacts by avoiding certain behaviors that greatly affect the environment and the society. The green travel tips are addressing all the holiday's cycle, from travel planning and packaging to the way back home. For example, the campaign encourages tourists to:
â€¢ Choose responsible service providers
â€¢ Reduce the consumption of energy while on the road or in their hotel
â€¢ Buy locally made and environmentally friendly souvenirs
The Campaign has been launched by UNEP, jointly with and the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Spatial Planning and the Brazilian Ministries of Environment and Tourism. It is an initiative of the International Task Force on Sustainable Tourism Development, firmly rooted in the move to accelerate a global shift towards sustainable consumption and production (SCP) that emerged from the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), held in Johannesburg in 2002.
The Green Passport web site is one outcome of this process. The web site, developed in English, Portuguese and French, together with additional communication tools (website and leaflet/brochure), is now available for dissemination by new partners to raise awareness in the tourism community.