Call for action to protect oceans

Tourism’s role in advancing the Blue Economy was highlighted as UNWTO chaired a special session and joined a Heads of State panel at the One Ocean Summit, hosted by the French Presidency this week.

In a session on “Tourism in the Blue Economy” co-hosted with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and France, high-level representatives stressed how implementing a blue economy can combat the threats of climate change, plastic pollution and over-exploitation of resources.

At the same time, the panel, representing Colombia, Kenya, Seychelles and Palau, made clear how a stronger focus on sustainability can help deliver more competitive and inclusive tourism activities.

“Tourism is one of the pillars of the Blue Economy and plays a key role in the preservation of oceans by providing financial incentives and mechanisms to protect ecosystems. But we can, and must, do more,” said UNWTO Executive Director Zoritsa Urosevic.

“As part of the recovery, tourism shall play a key role in the regeneration of coastal and marine ecosystems for resilience, putting people at the centre of our efforts.” 

Tourism represents 40 per cent of the blue economy – as the largest share in export value according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

“The destinies of tourism and the blue economy must be intertwined to make responsible use of the limited resources,” said Sylvestre Ragedonde, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism of Seychelles.

Corporate leaders from Accor, ClubMed, Costa Cruises, Iberostar Group, PONANT, TUI Group and the Blue Climate Initiative joined policymakers in the call to prioritise ocean protection. 

They made commitments to address plastic pollution through practical solutions in line with the framework proposed by the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative, which supports transitioning to a circular economy of plastics.

“The tourism sector can be a vector of education and prevention of plastics pollution and a source of sustainable recovery from the pandemic and generation of decent revenues for millions of people,” said Jorge Laguna-Celis, Head of the One Planet Network.