Agenda 21


for the Travel & Tourism Industry

Towards Environmentally Sustainable Development


In 1996 three International Organizations - the World Travel & Tourism Council, the World Tourism Organization and the Earth Council, joined together to launch an action plan entitled "Agenda 21 for the Travel & Tourism Industry: Towards Environmentally Sustainable Development" - a sectoral sustainable development programme based on the Earth Summit results.

The document is of particular significance to Travel & Tourism companies, governments, national tourism administrations (NTAs), and representative trade organizations, as well as the travelling public.

Since the launch of this document, the three organisations have begun a five year series of regional seminars designed to increase awareness of the conclusions, and to adapt the programme for local implementation.

This progress report lists the main conclusions of the document together with the outcome from the first year of regional seminars, which in 1997 were held in London and Jakarta.

Agenda 21 is a comprehensive programme of action adopted by 182 governments at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), the Earth Summit, on 14 June 1992. The first document of its kind to achieve international consensus, Agenda 21 provides a blueprint for securing the sustainable future of the planet, from now into the 21st century. It identifies the environment and development issues which threaten to bring about economic and ecological catastrophe and presents a strategy for transition to more sustainable development practices.

Agenda 21 for the Travel & Tourism Industry

The Travel & Tourism industry has a vested interest in protecting the natural and cultural resources which are the core of its business. It also has the means to do so. As the world's largest industry, it has the potential to bring about sustainable development of the communities and countries in which it operates. Concerted action from governments, and all sectors of the industry, will be needed in order to realize this potential and to secure long-term future development.

The Agenda 21 for the Travel & Tourism Industry document contains priority areas for action with defined objectives and suggested steps to be taken to achieve them. The document emphasizes the importance of the partnerships between government, industry and non-government organizations, analyses the strategic and economic importance of Travel & Tourism and demonstrates the enormous benefits in making the industry sustainable.

The frame-work for sustainable development to be established by the Travel & Tourism industry should be based on the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, from which the following guiding principles flow:

For government departments, NTAs and trade organizations, the overriding aim is to establish systems and procedures to incorporate sustainable development considerations at the core of the decision-making process and to identify actions to bring sustainable tourism development into being. The nine priority areas for action are:

For Travel & Tourism companies, the main aim is to establish systems and procedures to incorporate sustainable development issues as part of the core management function and to identify actions needed to bring sustainable tourism into being. The ten priority areas for action are:

The challenge of achieving the aims laid out in "Agenda 21 for the Travel & Tourism Industry: Towards Environmentally Sustainable Development" is not underestimated. It will require fundamental reorientation. However, the cost of inaction will far outweigh those of action. In the short term, damage to the industry's resources will continue and businesses may face increasing regulatory or economic penalties - particularly in the wake of the United Nations follow-up to the Rio process. In the long term, Travel & Tourism's future development will depend on the actions taken now in support of Agenda 21.

Towards a Full Implementation of Agenda 21

The document was circulated widely to governments, industry, non-governmental organizations and the media, and a five year programme was initiated to increase awareness and promote regional implementation. The first two Think Tanks held in London (February 1997) and Jakarta (November 1997), with a broad cross section of public and private sector participants, produced the following conclusions:

Environmental policies fall into three basic types:

Because the latter two may take longer to implement, governments and tourism companies should concentrate their efforts in these policy areas.

Further Seminars should be held in various regions of the world in order to examine the application of the principles of Agenda 21 to their specific circumstances and ensure its broad-scale implementation. Closer cooperation should be sought with the UN system in general, particularly in preparation for the 7th meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development, to be held in April 1999, which will specifically deal with Tourism. The latest Seminars were held in Zimbabwe in November and Dominica in December 1998.

For further details, please contact
Corinne Hitching at the Green Globe 21 Office

Other regions and countries are invited to propose to WTO and WTTC the holding of Seminars in their region.

A full copy of this report is available at a nominal cost of US$15 by clicking HERE. An invoice for payment will be sent with the document. In order to speed up delivery, please telephone the WTTC office on +44 171 838 9400 with your credit card details.