by Alex Palmer | January 10, 2013
Ecotourism, a continuing area of interest for incentive planners, received a major endorsement at the beginning of January in the form of a resolution from the United Nations General Assembly. On Jan. 3, the organization adopted a resolution outlining the important role played by ecotourism in reducing poverty and protecting the environment.

The resolution, titled, “Promotion of ecotourism for poverty eradication and environment protection,” came from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), an agency that works for the promotion of sustainable and accessible tourism. It calls on member states to adopt policies that will encourage travel that supports conservation and social responsibility. 

In particular, the resolution cites the “positive impact on income generation, job creation, and education,” created by such ecotourism programs that help reduce poverty. It adds that it aids the natural environment through its encouragement of conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity, working with local and indigenous communities in host countries to preserve the landscape. 

“UNWTO welcomes the adoption of this resolution on the importance of ecotourism,” UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said in a statement. “The remarkable support that the resolution has received, from all regions and across the development spectrum, is a clear testimony that sustainable tourism has a vital role to play in a fairer and sustainable future for all.”

The resolution was facilitated by Morocco, drawing on recommendations in a UNWTO report on 48 member states. It was sponsored by 105 delegations — a record for the UNWTO.

The resolution bolsters efforts of incentive planners who are considering or have already incorporated ecotourism elements into their travel programs. The Fall 2012 Pulse Survey from the Incentive Research Foundation reported that currently 48 percent of planners have some kind of corporate social responsibility weaved into their programs, a 4 percent increase over the prior year.