WTTC Summit: WTTC to tackle $17bn illegal wildlife trade

Leaders of the global travel industry joined the fight against the illegal wildlife trade with a ‘Buenos Aires Declaration on Travel & Tourism and the Illegal Wildlife Trade’ at the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) summit.

The declaration, signed at the summit in Buenos Aires, set out the sector’s commitment to stop the trade in wildlife.

Catherine Arnold, head of the illegal wildlife trade unit at the UK Foreign Office, said: “The trade in wildlife is worth $17 billion a year. It fuels corruption and it takes resources, often totemic resources, from countries.

“A living elephant can be worth $450,000 over its lifetime to a community in Africa. Dead, it may be worth $20,000.”

WTTC president and chief executive Gloria Guevara said: “Members have identified this as a priority for our sector. Wildlife tourism is a significant generator of income for communities around the world and the illegal wildlife trade puts at risk not only the biodiversity of our world, but the livelihoods of these communities.”

The declaration identifies as priorities: agreement to tackle the wildlife trade, promotion of responsible wildlife-based tourism, the need to raise awareness, and engagement with local communities

It commits signatories to sell only wildlife products that are legal and sustainably sourced, promote only responsible wildlife-based tourism, train staff to detect, identify and report illegal trade in wildlife, and educate consumers not to buy illegal or unsustainably sourced wildlife products.

John Scanlon, special envoy for African Parks and former secretary general of the International Convention on Trade in Endangered Species, said: “Maximising opportunities for local communities and ensuring they benefit from wildlife-based tourism is one of the best ways to stem the flow of illegal trade.

“Travel and tourism has a responsibility to raise awareness about the devastating impacts of the illegal wildlife trade.”

Gerald Lawless, immediate past chair of the WTTC, said: “It’s the right thing for the WTTC to take a lead on this. We can play a substantial role to tackle the illegal wildlife trade.”

In a video message to the Summit, UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson said: “Think big about what you can do.”

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