The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has unveiled new guidelines to help the travel and tourism sector to tackle the illegal wildlife trade (IWT).
The guidelines have been drawn up with support from Animondial, a key advisor to the global travel industry on animal welfare in tourism.
They follow on from commitments in the Buenos Aires Declaration, made at WTTC’s 2018 global summit in Argentina.
The guidelines show how travellers often participate – albeit unwittingly – in the illicit movement of animals, plants and products made from them.
Virginia Messina, WTTC senior vice-president, said: “The WTTC and its members are determined to help in the fight to eradicate the scourge of illegal trade in wildlife.
“As a sector, travel and 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.”
John Scanlon, chair of the Global Initiative to End Wildlife Crime, said: “It is fantastic that the travel and 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.”
The WTTC said there has been a “significant decrease” in funding for conservation efforts and an increase in poaching activities during the pandemic.
Its new guidelines urge tour operators and travel agents to adopt the principles advocated by the Abta Animal Welfare Guidelines.
These promote responsible travel and tourism activities with animals, respectful wildlife viewing practices and improved welfare standards – including no direct human-initiated contact with, or feeding of, wild animals.
The guidelines also discourage suppliers from sourcing animals from the wild unless there is a demonstrable and justifiable conservation need.
Accommodation providers are also urged to adopt the Abta guidelines and not to trade, breed or exploit animals.
Airlines should collaborate with industry associations including the International Air Transport Association (IATA), guided by its Live Animals Regulations (LAR), and with the taskforce against wildlife trafficking to support industry-wide action.