Tourism to Earth's most threatened areas surges by over 100 percent in last decade

he biodiversity hotspots has a range of negative impacts. These include removing pristine forests for infrastructure development, pollution, introduction of invasive species, water shortages and degradation of water supplies.

In addition, tourism development is increasingly linked to the economies of the world's developing countries, which are often home to high biodiversity areas. Tourism is a principal export of the 49 least-developed countries and number one for 37 of them. While economically significant, tourism can also prove to be volatile to local communities. Tourism development can uproot indigenous peoples, cause local goods and services to increase, force currency fluctuations and cause social and cultural disruption.

"Tourism has huge potential for good or evil. It is in everyone's interest, particularly the industry's, that the economic power of 21st century tourism is harnessed for the benefit of local people and wildlife," said Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of UNEP. "Tourism relies on stable and healthy communities and environments. It cannot prosper in areas of environmental decay. So it cannot ruin the very wildlife and landscapes the visitors pay to see and then move on. Otherwise we will rapidly run out of the biologically and culturally rich locations that underpin the profits of the holiday and vacation business. Fortunately, there are many sparkling examples where tourism has balanced the needs of the industry and the visitor, with the needs of wildlife and people. We need to encourage and extend these across the globe so that they do not become islands of good practice in a sea of environmental decline."

Tourism and Biodiversity: Mapping Tourism's Global Footprint includes maps that chart tourism's growth across the planet's most biodiversity rich environments and provides guidelines for governments, private businesses, donor organizations and local communities for supporting more sustainable tourism developme

Contact: Jason Anderson
Conservation International

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