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ITTFA Comment on… World Responsible Tourism Day

Industry leaders hope that 2007 will be the turning point in mobilising the international travel industry to help the environment and fight poverty in developing countries.

World Travel Market in London has declared that November 14 – the third day of its 2007 exhibition – will be the first World Responsible Tourism Day of Action. Hopefully other ITTFA member exhibitions will come up with similar initiatives, and start to mobilise support for poor countries where tourism can really make a difference.

The World Tourism Organisation is making the fight against poverty a priority this year, and will organise a summit on Tourism and Climate Change during WTM. It is calling on developed countries to come up with strategies to encourage tourism to poorer destinations, and advising developing countries to recognise the impact that tourism can have.

Its Secretary-General, Francesco Frangialli, says: “The tourism sector is the largest common area of export income and foreign direct investment across the world’s poorest countries. Tourism to these countries is growing at twice the rate of industrialised markets, and no sector spreads wealth and jobs across poor economies in the same way as tourism.”

“It just needs imagination and political will. Industrialised states should see their tourists as human development support, with the additional benefit that they build bridges of understanding between cultures.”

The World Tourism Organisation is making a call to action to governments and agencies around the world to act on this, while WTM is taking practical steps to encourage responsible tourism.

In the lead-up to World Responsible Tourism Day of Action it will keep the issue high on the agenda, and in the meantime it has devised an action pack telling the travel industry how to get involved. This can be downloaded from, and advice is also available by calling (+44) 1732 866121.

WTM managing director Fiona Jeffery says: “This is a chance for individuals, agents, operators, travel companies, destinations, attractions and governments to come together in true global co-operation which can – and will – make an impact. ”

“Action can be something quite modest or an initiative that involves hundreds, even thousands. You could plant a tree or adopt a school or clinic in a destination where you are already involved. You could raise money in your lunch hour to build wells to give deprived children clean water.”

For eight years WTM has been the guiding force behind Just a Drop, the international travel and tourism charity which has sponsored clean water projects and saved an estimated 800,000 lives in poor countries.

Fiona Jeffery stresses that World Responsible Tourism Day of Action is not just about the environment but also about poverty. “We have a responsibility to help local people and provide them with shelter, jobs, clean water, food and education,” she says. “We need to protect them from exploitation, corruption and deceit, and offer them the right to a decent and dignified standard of living.”

WTM is a member of ITTFA, International Travel Tourism Fairs Association.

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