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Africa - Wildlife crime threat to tourism development


   According to new The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) research released on the occasion of World Wildlife Day, wildlife watching tourism is one of the most important tourism segments in Africa, represents 80% of the total annual sales of the trips to Africa, with safari as the most popular product.

   UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon said “Illegal wildlife trade undermines the rule of law and threatens national security; it degrades ecosystems and is a major obstacle to the efforts of rural communities and indigenous people striving to sustainably manage their natural resources.”

   However, poaching and illicit trade in wildlife pose a serious threat to not only the ecosystems, but also the socio-economic development. The loss of biodiversity is directly causing the loss of development opportunities in the African tourism sector, which provides livelihoods for millions of people.

   In order to tackle unprecedented levels of poaching and strengthen the role of tourism against wildlife crime, UNWTO is spearheading efforts to increase knowledge on the economic value of wildlife watching in Africa. Towards Measuring the Economic Value of Wildlife Watching Tourism in Africa builds on a survey of 48 African tourism and conservation authorities from 31 countries, as well as 145 international and African-based tour operators, provides a first overview of this segment, its economic impact and the current involvement of tourism in anti-poaching measures. The research also brings further insights into the economic significance of wildlife watching tourism. Around 50% of the participating tour operators are funding anti-poaching initiatives and engaging in nature conservation projects, however only a few are so far proactively informing and engaging their customers on the issue. In addition, there are a number of actions for national tourism authorities recommended for national tourism authorities, including increased involvement in anti-poaching initiatives, systematic integration and evaluation of available data, and capacity building for a more consistent monitoring of protected areas visitors and receipts.

   “Given its economic importance, the tourism sector should play an important role in raising awareness among both policy makers and tourists on the devastating impacts of wildlife crime, and help finance anti-poaching initiatives. UNWTO remains deeply committed to mobilizing the international tourism community on this critical issue, which requires our immediate action“, said UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai.


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