The earth’s beautiful landscapes, fascinating species and diverse climates have captivated humanity for centuries. This natural allure has drawn individuals away from the comfort of their own homes to travel to distant lands; as a consequence, the tourism sector has strong economic, environmental and sociocultural links to biodiversity.
While the sector can generate much revenue for protected areas, empower indigenous peoples and local communities culturally and financially, it can also significantly impact the natural environment if activities are not carried out with care. For instance, CO2 emissions from travel, strain on freshwater resources caused by tourist facilities and change in land use as a result of tourist-related developments are all major concerns.
Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have worked to enhance the financing of protected area networks through capturing revenues from visitation (concessions and partnerships), to support the sustainable development of special places called “tourism and conservation hotspots”, and to help indigenous peoples and local communities who are stewards of natural areas to complement their livelihood through ecotourism and community-based tourism. Tourism carried out in this manner can help in the implementation of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, specifically contributing to sustainable economic growth, sustainable consumption and production, and the sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources.
The CBD Secretariat has contributed to sustainable tourism by developing, promoting and disseminating guidelines and manuals so that tourism activities are conducted while ensuring that measures are taken to protect biodiversity. It also works with the UN World Tourism Organization, the private sector and NGOs to encourage commitments and announcements towards the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.