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WTO: Preparations underway for International Year of Ecotourism 2002

WTO is holding a series of regional seminars in preparation for the International Year of Ecotourism 2002…

WTO<.> is holding a series of regional seminars in preparation for the International Year of Ecotourism 2002. The first was held in Maputo, Mozambique in March. Further regional seminars are scheduled for the Americas-in Cuiaba, Brazil from August 22-24; for Europe-focusing on mountain areas-from September 12-15 in St Johann, Austria; for islands and coastal areas-in the Seychelles, from December 8-10; for desert areas-in Algeria in November; and for Asia-in the Maldives during the first quarter of 2002.

The regional seminars are being used to compile information for the IYE World Ecotourism Summit, to be held in Quebec, Canada from May 19-22, 2002 and for the United Nation`s Earth Summit (Rio+10) in Johannesburg next year.

In the Maputo seminar, WTO Chief of Sustainable Development of Tourism, Eugenio Yunis, warned that lack of suitable controls could threaten the very future of this sector.

Unsustainable ecotourism is putting at risk the survival of the natural environment that is the very bedrock of the ecotourism business and, more serious still, detracts from and even discredits this activity, he said.

Various elements needed to guarantee the long term sustainability of any ecotourism project were highlighted by Mr. Yunis in Maputo. They included:
Ensuring that it contributes to the conservation of natural areas and the sustainable development of adjoining lands and communities.

Creating specific strategies to avoid anarchic and disorderly development.

Providing efficient coordination between public and private sectors, including the active involvement of local communities in the planning, developing, managing and regulating of ecotourism projects.

Minimizing the impact of tourism accommodation, transport facilities and any activities organized for tourists.

Ensuring that a reasonable proportion of income from tourism is channelled into local communities and into conserving natural heritage.

Managing the movement of tourists to avoid overcrowding, and carrying out continuous monitoring of the visitors` impact on the environment.
Other activities being organized by WTO for the International Year of Ecotourism include the publication of a guide to the sustainable development and management of tourism in national parks and protected areas, being prepared jointly with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Conservation Union, as well as a market research programme in the main tourism generating markets.

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