About us

Tourists have showing increasing interest in engaging in more nature and culture based experiences and the global tourism industry and policy makers are reacting.  As this kind of travel becomes as much a part of tourism as traditional sea and sun based activities new challenges present themselves and new solutions are emerging. We are here to help foster this process.

Nature is increasingly mentioned as a key criterion for selection of holiday destinations. Protection of the environmental quality of a destination is an important and growing success factor for most if not all types of tourism. This evolution brings emerging requirements that call for a suitable management approach that harmonizes the reasonable use of natural resources with their appropriate conservation.

The Consulting Unit was established in 2006 in direct response to the Tsunami and the need to assist in redevelopment of tourism infrastructure and capabilities in affected countries.  Working with the governments of Indonesia and Thailand through the Ministries of Tourism our work focused on assisting in successfully incorporating strategies that protected biodiversity through the industry redevelopment efforts.  Building on successes in those projects, and with the continued support of the Federal Republic of Germany, we broadened our geographic scope to a global one while remaining in our premised in Bonn, Germany.

The main tasks of the UNWTO Consulting Unit are:

  • To provide consulting services, upon request, to UNWTO Members on issues of biodiversity-based tourism, including participatory tourism planning and connecting biodiversity tourism to overall economic development while building on and leveraging technical capacity, lessons learned, accumulated experiences and established networks;
  • To support the development of sustainable tourism products by local stakeholders;
  • To assist Members in finding new funding opportunities for biodiversity related tourism development projects;
  • To monitor research of relevance and to prepare specific reports, recommendations and statements, which are aimed at highlighting the linkages of biodiversity and tourism; the Unit further seeks to integrate the topics of climate change and energy efficiency;
  • To identify and promote management examples that can serve as blueprints for future tourism developments, applicable to destinations worldwide;
  • To develop and deliver training tools for management, communication and participation that enable local people to contribute their knowledge and experiences to the long-term success of tourism development and for their own benefit;
  • To organize strategic meetings and to develop training measures
  • To contribute to the formulation and implementation of UNWTO´s activities for the post 2010 biodiversity targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity;
  • To apply the “Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development” of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) for planning processes in tourism destinations.

An emerging focus area of the UNWTO Consulting Unit is climate change and tourism, especially integrating the use of energy efficient measures and renewable energy in tourism establishments. Tourism contributes about 6% to global GHG production – the potential impact of a reduction is enormous with the possibility of creating a number of benefits to all parties. The Consulting Unit is working on initiatives to raise awareness in the tourism sector about mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

The Consulting Unit has also been actively involved in implementing projects related to other aspects of biodiversity and tourism. One initiative was in the district of Phang Nga, on the Andaman coast in Thailand which was heavily hit by the 2004 tsunami. The other project site was in Pangandaran (West Java) in Indonesia which was devastated by another tsunami in 2006. The Consulting Unit has also been providing inputs for cross-cutting issues such as energy efficiency, tourism security and climate change. These sectors have a direct impact on tourism and vice versa. Building on this theme, the "Program for Energy Efficiency  in Kho Khao" (PEEK)  was launched by the Consulting Unit in Thailand to mitigate the effects of climate change. On a similar theme, the project “Sustainable Tourism through Energy Efficiency with Adaptation and Mitigation Measures in Pangandaran” (STREAM) is currently ongoing in Indonesia.

In addition UNWTO Consulting Unit has recently started implementing projects in Central Europe- mainly Cooperation with the Carpatian Convention.

The UNWTO Consulting Unit on Tourism and Biodiversity is supported by Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany.