WTTC calls for preventing illegal wildlife trade

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WTTC calls for preventing illegal wildlife trade
Source: WTTC
August 02, 2021

The illicit market is valued between $ 8 billion and $ 23 billion per year


The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC, for its acronym in English), assured that it is necessary for this sector to help prevent the illegal trade in wildlife.

To this end, the WTTC published important new guidelines outlining how the global travel and tourism industry can work in concert to address this global problem.

The new guidelines from the WTTC, which represents the global private travel and tourism sector, with the support of Animondial, a key adviser to the global travel industry on animal welfare in tourism, aims to help the development of "12 commitments "of its Declaration of Buenos Aires.

The statement, which was released at the WTTC Global Summit in Argentina, showed how commitment and coordinated actions could combat the illegal wildlife trade and unveiled its Zero Tolerance Policy.
According to the guidelines, travelers often participate, albeit unknowingly, in the illicit movement of animals, plants, products made from them, and wild species that are threatened, endangered and protected by national or international law.
The challenge is balancing tourism with fragile environments where wildlife is at risk and animals are kept and exploited in captivity.
 
And as the demand for the legal trade in wildlife and its products increases, so does the illegal trade in wildlife. This illicit market is valued at between 8,000 and 23,000 million dollars a year, with more than 38,000 plant and animal species threatened by overexploitation and extinction.

Virginia Messina, Senior Vice President of the WTTC, noted: “The World Travel and Tourism Council and its members are determined to assist in the fight to eradicate the illegal wildlife trade. As a sector, we have the responsibility to tackle this activity that causes damage to countless animals, putting entire species and ecosystems at risk ”.

"We believe that these new guidelines will help companies around the world in their fight against this corrupt and shameful practice, so we reinforce our commitment made in the WTTC Declaration of Buenos Aires," added Messina.

John Scanlon, President of the Global Initiative to End Wildlife Crime, said: "It is fantastic that the travel and tourism sector has joined the global fight against the illegal wildlife trade, recognizing how it can protect wildlife at its source and help curb demand. But even better, it didn't stop with the Declaration. "

"Despite the COVID-19 disruption, the World Travel and Tourism Council has worked with the signatories to implement its terms, and is now issuing practical implementation guidance through its new guidelines."

Unfortunately, widespread travel bans and restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant decrease in funding for conservation efforts and an increase in poaching activities. Anti-poaching programs have run out of funds in the past 18 months.

Therefore, the WTTC is committed to spearheading the push for travel and tourism businesses around the world to adopt policies and practices that help eradicate the illegal wildlife trade.

By adopting a shared responsibility to address inland navigation and endorsing the WTTC Buenos Aires Declaration and Zero Tolerance Policy, the global travel and tourism sector can commit to responsible and sustainable wildlife-based tourism activities, to contribute to the preservation of wildlife.
The latest WTTC guidelines include:

Tour operators and travel agencies:
  1. Adopt the principles upheld by ABTA's Animal Welfare Guidelines, promoting responsible travel and tourism activities with animals, respectful wildlife observation practices, and better standards of welfare (including no direct human-initiated contact with, or the feeding wild animals)
  2. Discourage providers from sourcing animals from the wild, unless there is a demonstrable and justifiable conservation need.
 
Hosting providers:
  1. Adopt the principles upheld by ABTA's Animal Welfare Guidelines, promoting responsible travel and tourism activities with animals, respectful wildlife observation practices, and better welfare standards (including no direct human-initiated contact with, and feeding wild animals)
  2. There is no trade, breeding or exploitation of animals, including habituated animals or "companion animals" that can be accommodated in, or in the immediate vicinity of, the hotel, hostel or place.
 
Despite the support of many travel and tourism companies in the protection of threatened animal and plant species of extinction, much more can still be done to increase the support of the sector in this fight.
 
The guidelines show that travel and tourism plays and can continue to play a critical role in helping to eradicate the illegal wildlife trade.
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