September 27 marks World Tourism Day, an annual event organized by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), aimed at underscoring the social, cultural, political and economic value of international tourism.
This year's World Tourism Day aligns with the United Nation's overall designation of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (IYOT). Supported by a global #TravelEnjoyRespect campaign, IYOT seeks to increase awareness among governments, companies and tourists of the role they play in making tourism a catalyst for positive change.
Ahead of this year's IYOT celebrations, Project AWARE teamed up with up WWF and the Manta Trust to release the world’s first “Responsible Shark & Ray Tourism: A Guide to Best Practice" as part of a global effort to create well managed shark and ray tourism operations, conserve species, and benefit local communities.
Shark and ray tourism is on the rise globally. If current trends continue, the numbers of shark related tourism could more than double over the next twenty years. Developed in collaboration with science and industry, the guide was created to ensure that sites are established and managed in a manner that benefits sharks and rays, as well as local communities, whilst also inspiring awe, respect and a greater appreciation of the need to conserve these animals amongst tourists.
We want to empower dive operators to lead by best practice. When you commit to best practice, you help build a better future for sharks and rays as well as your local community. You can help minimize the adverse impacts of tourism on shark and ray populations and raise awareness to protect them!
Responsible shark and ray related ecotourism can be a powerful, complementary conservation strategy. It can also serve as an important supplementary source of income benefiting operators and the local communities alike.