Tourism Industry Must Promote Sustainable Tourism: UN

KUALA LUMPUR ~ The global tourism industry must find ways to deal with environmental changes and promote sustainable tourism that will also help reduce poverty, a top official with the UN’s tourism agency said this week.

Francesco Frangialli, secretary general of the World Tourism Organization, said the industry faces numerous challenges as it enters a new phase of growth.

“It is increasingly apparent that tourism has become both the victim and the vector of climate change and of the reduction of biodiversity,” Frangialli said at an international tourism conference.

“We should propose avenues of research and instruments of action that will allow tourism to transform itself, and in doing so, survive climate change and progressively lessen its contribution to it,” he said.

A key UN report released in April warned that billions would face a higher risk of water scarcity and millions more would likely go hungry as damage to the Earth’s weather systems from greenhouse gases changed rainfall patterns, powered up storms and boosted the risk of drought, flooding and water stress.

Frangialli said a growing number of tourist arrivals would add to the pressure.

International tourist arrivals amounted to 842 million in 2006 and this was expected to continue growing at about four percent a year, Frangialli said.

Tourist arrivals would climb to 1.1 billion in 2010 and nearly 1.6 billion by 2020, he added.

“You will have an increased pressure on the natural environment, on the national biodiversity and also the lives of the local communities,” he said.

Amid these challenges, Frangialli said the industry should emphasize efforts to alleviate poverty.

“Tourism has the capacity to contribute to another global challenge that is at least as important: the fight against extreme poverty,” he said.

The tourism industry contributed US$205 billion in foreign currency income to developing and emerging countries in 2005, the secretary general said.

About 800 participants from 72 countries attended the World Tourism Conference.

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