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Training on Tourism and Biodiversity: Understanding Tourism Trends and Biodiversity Conservation for Innovative Products and Marketing, UNESCO Rhoen Biosphere Reserve (2012)
The first UNWTO Training on Tourism and Biodiversity on the subject Understanding Tourism Trends and Biodiversity Conservation for Innovative Products and Marketing took place in the Bavarian part of the German UNESCO Rhoen Biosphere Reserve from 21 October – 2 November 2012.
The twelve-day training course, focused on mountain tourism, attracted 20 participants from all over the world and offered the opportunity to experience the practical features and characteristics of the UNESCO Rhoen Biosphere Reserve. The local managers of the Reserve provided an introduction to the current trends and issues related to the management of the protected area. Other lectures were held by both the private and scientific sector, non-governmental organizations, UNESCO and UNWTO, with approaches that included the identification of unique selling propositions of biodiversity-based tourism products and measures for effective product development and marketing. Moreover, group work provided further opportunities for the exchange of ideas, opinions and experience between the participants, and a public participant blog was established under http://www.tourism-biodiversity.com, serving as a basis for further exchange after the completion of the course.
According to the participants, lessons learned from the training course which could be applied in their home countries include the creation of sustainable area management action plans, the design of effective tools for marketing tourism products and the introduction of best practice trainings for stakeholders from the private sector. The involvement of local communities and other stakeholders remains a significant responsibility at the start of each new planning process. The importance of this last point was broadly recognized by the participating tourism managers. In this regard, new approaches will be implemented in order to increase sustainability for local populations.
A balanced distribution of gender, age and country of origin of the participants provided excellent conditions for the success of the training course, which was attended by eighteen tourism ministry representatives from Albania, Argentina, Austria, Bhutan, Brazil, Egypt, Haiti, Georgia, Kuwait, Latvia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Uganda, as well as two non-governmental representatives from Poland and South Africa. Reflecting on the training course, participant Fernney Piou from Haiti said: “This experience has been unforgettable; we have learnt a lot and are ready to share this knowledge with our colleagues and members of the tourism sector in our own countries”.
Supported with funds from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai thanked the German Government for its support and said: “This course corresponds fully to the UNWTO mission on education and training, enabling Member States to devise and implement the education and training policies, plans and tools that fully harness the employment potential of their tourism sectors and effectively enhance its competitiveness and sustainability. In this United Nations Decade on Biodiversity, UNWTO is supporting its Members in their capacity to take responsibility for the wellbeing of biodiversity; tourism’s natural capital.”