Discovery Indochina was recently invited to attend a conference on Wildlife Protection and Responsible Tourism, held by the National Administration of Tourism, TRAFFIC – the wildlife trade monitoring network, and several other International non-governmental organizations, on 30 July 2019.
The conference focused on two main subjects: first, the illegal wildlife trade, and Vietnam’s role as a transit country for wildlife products. The second half focused on corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. Attendees discussed how socially responsible and sustainable tourism operations benefits everyone involved: whether environment, domestic economy, or foreign consumer.
How are wildlife protection and tourism related?
7% of world tourism is connected to the wildlife trade and wildlife tourism, and in UNESCO World Heritage Sites this number is even higher (Wildlife Protection and Responsible Tourism Conference, 2019)! Certain types of tourism, like safari visits, elephant rides, or animal sanctuaries, may actually be cover-ups for illegal wildlife trade (PEAK Destination Management Company, 2019). Furthermore, the use of disposable materials, especially plastic, is harmful for the environment, and even more so for national parks and land with high tourism traffic.
However, it is still possible for companies, consumers, and other actors to take action to preserve wildlife. Some companies mentioned banning all visits to animal sanctuaries and safaris, or operating in a plastic-free workplace. Educating clients and travellers on illegal wildlife trade was an option as well, proving that all actors in the tourism sector can take steps towards wildlife protection.
What were other proposed steps for businesses at the conference?
For partners in the tourism industry- like Discovery Indochina- campaigning for wildlife protection can take different forms. Training staff, distributing PR materials that promote wildlife protection, or altering certain tour operations are all wildlife-conscious shifts shifts toward responsible tourism practices.
Our offices are currently working towards putting these suggestions into practice, both in the workplace and in community activities.
Discovery Indochina values corporate social responsibility, and we are proud of our commitment to responsible tourism. We attend conferences, implement workshops, and engage in community work to increase our awareness of industries that harm the local environment and communities.
For our past and potential customers: if you have any ideas on how Discovery Indochina can improve its tour operations to be more responsible, sustainable, and respectful, please let us know by contacting us! We are always open to suggestions and feedback from our customers.
Photo source: Pham Thai Ha, Viện Nghiên cứu Phát triển Du lịch