UN hails forums declaration defining basis for ecotourism development

The United Nations environment agency has hailed the strong turnout for the first-ever world conference on ecotourism that has just ended in Canada, saying that it bodes well for the industry’s intention to develop in a way that respects fragile ecosystems.Speaking after the conclusion of the World Ecotourism Summit in Québec City, an official of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said the high number of stakeholders and ecotourism practitioners that participated in the meeting offered “great hope” for the full implementation of the declaration adopted at the end of the conference Wednesday evening.”Through implementation of agreed guidelines, principles and standards, the follow-up regional consultations and concrete demonstration projects, the first-ever Ecotourism Summit has signalled that ecotourism, in practice, can contribute to poverty alleviation and environmental protection,” said Oliver Hillel, UNEP’s Tourism Programme Coordinator.Through several rounds of talks, some 1,200 delegates from 133 countries discussed policy and planning issues, regulating the industry, product development and promotion, and monitoring the costs and benefits of ecotourism.The dialogue culminated in the Québec Declaration on Ecotourism, which will be presented later this year to the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa.Major follow-up activities to the Ecotourism Summit include the International Ecotourism Conference in October in Australia and the Bishkek Mountain Summit, the culminating event of the 2002 International Year of the Mountains, in November in Kyrgyzstan.The four-day Summit was an initiative of UNEP and the World Tourism Organization, and convened in partnership with Tourisme Québec and the Canadian Tourism Commission.

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