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Sustainability in tourism on the international agenda

Jahr des nachhaltigen Tourismus

The United Nations has proclaimed 2017 the 'International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development'. Under the aegis of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) the declared aim is to strengthen awareness for tourism activities that contribute to sustainable development. At the World’s Largest Tourism Trade Show In March 2017, ITB Berlin, which for many years has engaged in numerous projects campaigning for greater social justice, environmental protection and human rights, also focused the spotlight on raising awareness for sustainable tourism. In cooperation with the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), the ITB Berlin Convention devoted an entire panel discussion to the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Overall, relations between ITB Berlin and UNWTO are excellent, and there have been high-profile UNWTO events at ITB Berlin for many years. Among them was this year’s pre-launch of the 2nd UNWTO Global Report on LGBT Tourism, featuring an interview with ITB Berlin’s CSR officer Rika Jean-Francois.

UNWTO has now published an interim report on its activities over the last six months. They include the appointment of Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, President of the Republic of Malta, to the post of Special Ambassador of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Furthermore, the organisation was able to welcome ten Special Ambassadors who have signed up to this project. In order to promote sustainable tourism worldwide it also works closely with other UN organisations. Below are three examples of UNWTO projects which are already under way or currently being organised.

Peace Boat Ecoship Project

The Ecoship project has taken on a pioneering role in a bid to raise shipbuilding to a new level and minimise the impact of passenger liners on the environment. A number of experts have created a revolutionary ship design that resembles a hump-backed whale – a visual demonstration of sustainability even when stationary in a harbour. One of the ship’s most important design aspects is its high performance, achieved using a minimum amount of energy. The ship is equipped with ten retractable wind turbines and photovoltaic sails, kinetically designed surfaces and 6,000 square metres of solar panels on the upper deck. Recycled waste and water are used to cultivate a self-sustaining garden.It incorporates a self-sustained garden that uses recycled garbage and wastwater.are are The ship’s hull, coated in a non-toxic and anti-contaminant material, resembles the scales of a fish. The ship was designed by Peace Boat, an NGO, and its maiden voyage is scheduled for 2020.

Bali Water Protection Program

Freshwater supplies on Bali, an Indonesian island in the Indian Ocean is under threat. There are several reasons why pollution here is increasing at an alarming rate. On the one hand the demands of the growing tourism industry have reduced groundwater to an extent that saltwater has risen in its place. On the other hand freshwater is also being contaminated by illegal waste and excessive use of farming chemicals. In order to promote freshwater protection the Bal Water Protection Program (BWP) has launched three activities under the following headings: the ’Adopt A Well’ Aquifer Recharge program (natural aquifer treatment processes can improve the quality of water), the ’Adopt A River’ learning program, and the ’Adopt Water’ media campaign.

AdventureNEXT Near East

For the first time Jordan played host to AdventureNEXT Near East. The regional conference of the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), an international organisation representing the adventure travel industry with more than 1,100 members in over 90 countries, is the first event of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa. Its aim is to promote eco-tourism and adventure travel in the local region. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan offers many possibilities and a diverse countryside for hiking, trekking, canyoning, cycling, climbing, hot-air ballooning and extreme sports. By recently launching the Jordan Trail, a 650-kilometre hiking trail from the far north to the south, Jordan marked a milestone in eco-tourism.

According to UNWTO, in recent years more than 700 projects and innovative solutions have helped to create more socially acceptable jobs, conserve biodiversity, strengthen communities and promote sustainable tourism.

More information on the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development can be found on the official UNWTO website

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