A report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) says the travel industry can play a critical role in halting and reversing the destruction of nature.
Called Nature Positive Travel & Tourism, the report was created jointly with Animondial, which seeks to minimize tourism's impact on animals and nature. It aims to help businesses act on the urgent need to better protect biodiversity and nature.
WTTC contends that travel and tourism businesses are "uniquely placed to take positive actions to restore nature and, through nature-based solutions and decarbonization, achieve net zero."
With nature tourism representing 20% of global travel, the report shows how crucial nature is for destinations around the world. Wildlife tourism alone contributes $343 billion to the global economy every year, the report says, and supports nearly 22 million jobs around the world.
"Human activity has resulted in a devastating loss of natural habitat and biodiversity, with one in four species now facing extinction," WTTC CEO Julia Simpson said in a statement. "Travel and tourism is uniquely placed to make a real difference. 80% of travel and tourism is highly dependent on nature, so it is crucial we take a proactive role in advancing nature conservation."
The report lays out a four-phase framework that includes setting out a strategy, identifying essential and optimal actions, rolling out and reviewing a program, and harnessing all communication opportunities.
The report also offers four actions it says the travel sector should take in the short term: reconnect people and nature, support sustainable value chains, protect animals and their welfare, and invest in nature.
"Most travel and tourism businesses we talk to already understand the needs to include the protection of biodiversity and nature in their planning and reporting," said Daniel Turner, Animondial co-founder and director. "But this can be a complicated area, and for many, the first challenge is simply knowing where to start."