Message of H.E. Dr Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General,

United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)



UNWTO's Commitment to Ecotourism:

3rd World Ecotourism Conference, 3-5 October 2011

from UNWTO on Vimeo.








Tourism today is one of the largest industries in the world. Ecotourism along with culturaltourism haveparticularly become the fastest growing sectors within the tourism industry worldwide.


Ecotourism provides effective economic incentives for conserving and enhancing cultural diversity while helpingto protect the natural and cultural heritage of the planet. It is also an effective means through which local communities around the world are being empowered to fight against poverty, regain pride in their heritage and achieve sustainable development. Furthermore, ecotourism can contribute significantly to rural development while promoting the environmentally sensitive development of basic infrastructure in remote areas.


Over the years UNWTO has strengthened its commitment to the cause of ecotourism in various ways. We played a leading role as one of the bodies responsible for coordinating the activities of the International Year of Ecotourism in 2002; we have been organising regional conferences and seminars on ecotourism and have also contributed to or published research projects, declarations, books and studies on the main ecotourism generating markets.All of these have contributed to raising the level of awareness on the potential impacts of ecotourism.


I wish to commend Cambodia, the host of the 3rd World Ecotourism Conference for taking concrete steps to protect its rich natural and cultural resources in many eco-sensitive areas and embracing community-based ecotourism as a viable economic activity in rural areas.


I also congratulate DiscoveryMice – an Affiliate Member of UNWTO on taking the initiative of organisingthe World Ecotourism Conference in Asia on annual basis. During its inauguration in Laos in 2009,we endorsed the Vientiane Declaration on Ecotourism. We were also actively involved in the second conference which took place in Malaysia last year.


While the first two conferences laid the foundation, this 3rd edition aims at defining a common framework for the development of an ecotourism roadmap for developing countries.


I am confident that the deliberations and discussions of the 3rd World Ecotourism Conference will contribute to strengthening the commitment of all stakeholders to the development and management of ecotourism.