World Tourism Day September 27, 2011


The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is celebrating World Tourism Day today, September 27, and Ramsar is celebrating with UNWTO and the world. For 2011, the UNWTO theme is Tourism and Culture, and tourism’s role in linking together the cultures of the world through travel. This year’s World Tourism Day is related to the theme for World Wetlands Day February 2, 2012: Wetlands and Tourism and is linked as well to the broader theme for COP11: Wetlands, Tourism and Recreation.

Wetlands, Tourism, Culture: The Big Picture

Wetland tourism has benefits both locally and nationally for people and wildlife – benefits such as stronger economies, sustainable livelihoods, healthy people and thriving ecosystems. At least 35% of Ramsar Sites around the world record some level of tourism activity and this percentage is consistent throughout all regions. Of course it is important to consider tourism in all wetlands – not just those designated as Ramsar Sites – since the Contracting Parties to the Convention are committed to managing all wetlands.

Fjord, Norway.
Wetlands and their wildlife are a key part of the global tourism and cultural travel experience: from visiting the underground karst wetlands in Slovenia’s Skocjan caves, to experiencing the breath-taking sunsets at the Port Launay Ramsar Site in the Seychelles, tourists gain appreciation of different cultures through magnificent wetland landscapes when they visit these special places. The unique cultural experience that awaits you in the Kakadu National Park in Australia, home to some of the finest aboriginal art that exists, is another example of how wetlands, tourism and culture are thoroughly connected. The world’s Ramsar Sites and other wetlands have much to offer the adventurous tourist.

Including wetland-related cultural landscapes in tourism promotion activities is an important part of communicating the value of wetlands and Ramsar Sites worldwide. Cultural aspects of wetland tourism activities bring benefits to local populations and demonstrate the importance of wetlands. Educational and interpretative activities in wetlands are a part of a rich tourism experience that should support local cultural values.

> Culture and wetlands: a Ramsar guidance document(EN, FR,SP) (PDF, 2008)

A heritage-based approach to wetland conservation through the Ramsar Document on Culture and Wetlands in India: Sambhar Master Plan

> About the Ramsar Culture Working Group

Ensuring well-managed tourism practices in and around wetlands and educating tourists on the value of wetlands contributes to the health of the world's wetlands and the long-term benefits that wetlands provide to people, wildlife, economics, and biodiversity. This is one reason why the formal agreement between Ramsar and UNWTO, the Memorandum of Cooperation, is important.

Ramsar and UNWTO: A Partnership

On World Wetlands Day, February 2, 2010, the Ramsar Secretariat and UNWTO formalised their relationship and signed a Memorandum of Cooperation to promote the wise use and sustainable tourism practices at wetlands; increase and improve the designation and management of wetlands of international importance; and enhance regional and international cooperation between ministries responsible for wetlands management and biodiversity conservation and those responsible for tourism development.

> About the Ramsar UNWTO Memorandum of Cooperation

Looking Ahead to World Wetlands Day 2012: Wetlands and Tourism

Traditional fishing boats at Ghar el Melah Ramsar site, Tunisia

Between World Tourism Day and World Wetlands Day, February 2, 2012, take some time to promote responsible, sustainable tourism at local wetlands. Take a walk through a nearby wetland. Support educational practices that highlight the cultural values of wetlands. The Ramsar and UNWTO partnership is important for World Wetlands Day 2012 messaging, to promote responsible tourism for wetlands with new WWD 2012 Materials.

The World Wetlands Day 2012 message is: Wetland Tourism: A Great Experience. Responsible tourism supports wetlands and people.

Be sure you know what sustainable tourism is, and share this with your networks. To be sustainable, tourism should:

  • Make optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural resources and biodiversity.
  • Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.
  • Ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed, including stable employment and income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities, and contributing to poverty alleviation.

About World Tourism Day – from the UNWTO World Tourism Day website:

“World Tourism Day is celebrated annually on 27 September. Its purpose is to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. The event seeks to address global challenges outlined in the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to highlight the contribution the tourism sector can make in reaching these goals.”

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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