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#Tourism ‘has crucial role’ propelling #global sustainability debate
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Tourism has a crucial role to play in propelling the global debate around sustainability but is too often “absent” from the debate, a nature-based tourism initiative and says.

The Long Run – which helps its members protect more than 12 million acres of “ecologically important areas” – released its annual report this month.

Its chairman Jochen Zeitz says that tourism does not often take the lead in global debates around issues like climate change and “environmental degradation”.

But he thinks it can have a big impact on the way businesses across the world deal with those issues.

“Tourism has a unique opportunity to lead the way,” said Zeitz, a former chief executive at sportswear firm Puma. “The sector represents 9.8% of the world’s GDP, one in 11 jobs, and will concern 1.8 billion travellers by 2030.

“Travelling transforms lives; by exposing people to new experiences and cultures, it increases understanding and opens minds. If done right, it can drive sustainable development and significantly contribute to the delivery of the world’s Sustainable Development Goals by helping to protect nature, improve livelihoods and preserve cultural identities.

“Despite all this, the tourism sector is noticeably absent from global sustainability debates.”

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals are a list of 17 goals – with 169 targets between them – that it hopes countries around the globe can introduce by 2030 in international agreement.

It includes subjects ranging from hunger, health and education to climate, equality and innovation.

The Long Run was founded in 2009 to support eco-sensitive tourism ventures as they sought to develop businesses in tune with the protection of the landscapes in which they operate. It now has more than 40 members which look after a combined 12 million acres – an area larger than the size of Switzerland.

Its members have invested over US$10 million in conservation and local communities and employed more than 3,700 people.

Its sites include Cottar’s, a 1920’s Safari Camp in Kenya’s Maasai Mara, Brazil’s Sinal do Vale biosphere reserve, and hiking destination Comrie Croft in Perthshire, Scotland.

“The Long Run’s vision is that of a world in which business, nature and people are harmoniously working together for a sustainable future,” Zeitz added. “It demonstrates what the private sector can achieve and the positive impact it can have on conservation and communities around the world. Society, and business especially, must embrace its responsibility towards the future of this planet.”