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Published on Thursday, October 11, 2018

Travel companies sign up to combat illegal wildlife trade

Over 100 travel and tourism businesses, associations, media organisations, national government organisations and destinations have joined forces in a global initiative to combat illegal wildlife trade.

The organisations have all signed the World Travel & Tourism Council's Buenos Aires Declaration on Illegal Wildlife Trade, launched in April 2018, and will work together towards a common goal of changing behaviour of one billion travellers as it relates to illegal wildlife trade.

Speaking at the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) Conference in London on Thursday, WTTC president and CEO Gloria Guevara said: "Travel and tourism generates 313 million jobs each year and accounts for 10% of the world's GDP."

"Wildlife is a key driver of tourism activity and job creation, particularly in countries across Africa, Asia and South America and protecting endangered species is vital for the sustainable future of our sector and those whose livelihoods depend on it.

"In addition, with 1.3 billion international travellers each year there is an enormous opportunity to educate our consumers on how they can support the global fight against illegal wildlife trade."

Prince William was also at the conference and told delegates: "The criminal gangs who smuggle horns and tusks pose one of the greatest threats to the survival of wildlife."

During the conference, WTTC and WWF announced a partnership to deliver on the priorities set out in the Buenos Aires Declaration. This includes the development of zero tolerance policies and industry guidelines, sharing best practice and driving consumer awareness.

Guevara added "We are delighted to be working with WWF to bring together the power of major tourism players to fight the illegal wildlife trade.

"Illegal wildlife trade is the world's fourth largest criminal activity, generating $23 billion a year in revenue and the travel and tourism sector has a vital role to play not only in stemming demand through consumer awareness, but also by providing sustainable livelihoods for communities on the ground where poaching takes place.

"There is significant evidence to show that sustainable community-based tourism can eradicate poaching completely."

In addition, WTTC has launched a new 'Changemakers' category in its annual Tourism for Tomorrow Awards programme to showcase companies who are leading the way in fighting illegal wildlife trade through tourism. Applications for entries close on November 14.

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