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EARTHCARE and the Sustainable EcoTourism Committee celebrate World Wetlands Day
By EARTHCARE
Feb 2, 2012 - 11:03:13 PM

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Freeport, Bahamas - World Wetlands Day is February 2nd.  EARTHCARE and the Sustainable/EcoTourism Committee in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism has information on wetlands and their importance available at the Post Office in Freeport, Grand Bahama on February 2nd .

For the kids there will be Flip Books to build.  The theme for 2012 is “Wetland Tourism:  A Great Experience, Responsible tourism supports wetlands and people”.  Gail Woon, representative from EARTHCARE said, “We are pleased to be able to provide information to the public on wetlands because the Bahamas is a signatory to the RAMSAR Convention which is devoted to protecting valuable wetland areas around the world.  Our country faces serious challenges in this regard when one looks at developments in Bimini and Guana Cay to name a few.  We especially thank the Post Master, Debbie Pennerman and the helpful staff at the Post Office. ”  

According the Ramsar World Wetlands Day 2012 leaflet, “Wetlands and their wildlife are a key part of the global tourism experience.”  On Grand Bahama Island we have underground cave systems at the Lucayan National Park, the marine turtles and brain corals at the Peterson’s Cay National Park and bird watching on our wetlands.  “The world’s Ramsar Sites and other wetlands have much to offer the adventurous tourist.”  

“In 2010 the number of international tourists reached 940 million, and this is forecast to grow to around 1.6 billion by 2020.  Globally, the economic activity generated by travel and tourism represents around 5% of GDP and an estimated 6-7% of the world’s jobs.  With half of international tourists travelling to wetlands of all types, but particularly in coastal areas, the tourism expenditure linked to wetlands can be estimated at around USD 925 billion each year.  Add domestic tourism and recreational day trips to that and the economic value generated by tourism to wetlands is truly enormous.”  

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“Tourism businesses can promote and support wetland biodiversity by:  reducing pollution from tourism activities, particularly by ensuring that all liquid and solid wastes are properly treated and disposed of in ways that do not result in damage to biodiversity, and by minimizing use of pesticides, fertilizers and toxic chemicals; obtaining all foodstuffs, and other biological resources used in tourism activities, from sustainably managed resources; supporting biodiversity conservation by government agencies and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) through practical actions, including financial contributions, for example, through sponsorships and voluntary donations; ensuring that no invasive alien species are introduced through tourism activities; ensuring that no threatened or endangered species are put at risk from tourism activities or enter the tourism supply chain (especially as foods or souvenirs); and using the communications and marketing strengths of the tourism sector to raise awareness of tourists and destination authorities of the value of biodiversity and the steps they can take to protect it”, according to the UNWTO (2010) Tourism and Biodiversity – Achieving Common Goals Towards Sustainability, World Tourism Organization, Madrid, Spain.   

On this World Wetlands Day let’s raise awareness about how people can be “responsible tourists” both in their personal behavior as tourists and in the choices they make for hotels or tour operators who are concerned about the sustainability of their operations.



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