LONDON, 20 July 2021: The World Travel
& Tourism Council has released major new guidelines outlining how the
global Travel & Tourism sector can work together to tackle illegal wildlife
trade (IWT).

The new guidelines from WTTC, which
represents the global private travel and tourism sector, with support from
Animondial, a key advisor to the global travel industry on animal welfare in
tourism, aiming to help interpret the ‘12 Commitments’ of its game-changing
Buenos Aires Declaration.

The declaration, which was launched at
WTTC’s Global Summit in Argentina, showed how coordinated commitment and action
could combat the illegal trade in wildlife (IWT) and unveiled its Zero
Tolerance Policy.

According to the guidelines, travellers
often participate, albeit unwittingly, in the illicit movement of animals,
plants, products made from them – and of wild species which are threatened,
endangered, and protected by national or international law.

Tourism thrives in every corner of the
world. But the challenge is balancing tourism with fragile environments where
wildlife is at risk and animals are held and exploited in captivity.

And as demand for the legal trade in
wildlife and their products increases, so rises IWT. This illicit market is
valued between a staggering USD8 billion and USD23 billion per year, with over
38,000 plant and animal species threatened by overexploitation and extinction.
Yet, wildlife is worth more alive than dead- requiring us to take action.

Virginia Messina, Senior Vice President
WTTC, said: “The World Travel & Tourism Council and its Members are
determined to help in the fight to eradicate the scourge of illegal trade in
wildlife.

“As a sector, Travel & Tourism has a
responsibility to tackle this appalling activity which causes misery to
countless animals, putting entire species and ecosystems at risk.

“We believe these new guidelines will
help businesses around the world in their fight against this corrupt and
shameful practice, and we renew and reinforce our commitment first made in
WTTC’s game-changing Buenos Aires Declaration.”

John Scanlon, Global Initiative to End
Wildlife Crime Chair, said: “It is fantastic that the Travel & Tourism
sector has joined the global fight against illegal wildlife trade, recognising
how it can both protect wildlife at its source and help curb demand. But,
what’s even better, is that it didn’t stop with the declaration.

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

However, despite the support of many Travel
& Tourism businesses in the protection of animal and plant species
threatened with extinction, much more can still be done to increase the endorsement
of the sector in this fight.

The guidelines show that Travel &
Tourism does and can continue to play a critical role in helping to tackle the
IWT.

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 programmes have been starved of funds over the past 18 months.

WTTC is therefore committed to spearheading
the drive-by travel and tourism businesses around the world to embrace policies
and practices to help eradicate IWT.

By adopting a shared responsibility to
tackle IWT and sign up for WTTC’s Buenos Aires Declaration and the WTTC-WWF
Zero Tolerance Policy, the global Travel & Tourism sector can commit itself
to be responsible and sustainable wildlife-based tourism activities to
contribute to wildlife preservation.

WTTC’s latest guidelines include:

Tour operators and travel agents:

  • Adopt the
    principles advocated by the ABTA Animal Welfare Guidelines, promoting
    responsible Travel & Tourism activities with animals, respectful wildlife
    viewing practices and improved welfare standards (including no direct
    human-initiated contact with, or feeding of, wild animals)
  • Discourage
    suppliers from sourcing animals from the wild unless there is a demonstrable
    and justifiable conservation need. Consult national laws, animal stock list,
    CITES* permits and the CITES Management Authority for the respective national
    government.
  • Accommodation
    providers:
  • Adopt the
    principles advocated by the ABTA Animal Welfare Guidelines, promoting
    responsible Travel & Tourism activities with animals, respectful wildlife
    viewing practices and improved welfare standards (including no direct
    human-initiated contact with, and feeding of, wild animals)
  • No commercial trade, breeding or exploitation
    of animals, including habituated or ‘pet’ animals that may be housed in, or in
    the vicinity of, the hotel, lodge, or venue.

Transport providers:

  • Sign up to
    the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, the WTTC Buenos Aires Declaration
    on Illegal Trade in Wildlife and the related IWT Zero Tolerance Policy, and
    work with ROUTES to implement the commitments
  • Airlines should collaborate with industry associations,
    including the International Air Transport Association (IATA), guided by its
    Live Animals Regulations (LAR), and with the task force against wildlife
    trafficking to support industry-wide action.

* Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora