Sustainable Tourism Observatories aim to provide standardized, usable information to recognize sustainable tourism providers. Travel agencies use this information to help in choosing sustainable suppliers and certification programs. Consumers use it to identify sound sustainable tourism programs and businesses they might use when traveling. Monitoring the environmental, social and economic impacts of tourism, two new observatories have been set up in China.
A product of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, Sustainable Tourism Observatories have been set up in 155 countries. Representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities, the UNWTO tackles challenges like climate change, poverty elimination and others that will be affected by tourism.”UNWTO’s Sustainable Tourism Observatories are providing decision makers with the information they need to make more responsible tourism decisions,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai in a statement.
Kanas Lake Nature Reserve in the extreme northwest of China and the city of Chengdu, one of China’s most populous cities, are the locations of two new UNWTO Sustainable Tourism Observatories, which will gather and report sustainable tourism indicators and help ensure more sustainable tourism growth.
For those who have traveled to some of the most beautiful, unspoiled places on the planet, this effort aims to keep those destinations that way while supporting tourism, often a major economic factor in those areas.
The city of Chengdu, for example, sees tens of millions of tourists each year, sourced both domestically and internationally. These tourists contribute a great deal to the city’s economy and add an estimated 600,000 direct jobs. Is that amount of tourism sustainable? Will future generations be able to see what we see there today? These and other questions are what the UNWTO hopes to answer.
“The establishment of the Chengdu and Kanas Observatories will allow these destinations to better understand the impact of their many visitors, evaluate the impacts of existing sustainable tourism initiatives and ensure tourism benefits both the people and environment of the surrounding areas for years to come,” added Rifai.
For more information on sustainable tourism, visit the UNWTO website and check this video:
[Photo credit: Flickr user dcmaster]