New UN-led anti-trafficking campaign to help raise tourists’ awareness

New joint campaign on tourism and organized crime launched by UNODC, UNWTO and UNESCO.

New joint campaign on tourism and organized crime launched by UNODC, UNWTO and UNESCO.

United Nations, 5 March 2014 – Encouraging travellers to help in the global fight against trafficking in illicit goods and services, three United Nations agencies have joined forces launching today a new campaign aiming to raise awareness among travellers and the tourism industry about making the right ethical choices and reducing demand for illegal products.

The campaign, Your Actions Count – Be a Responsible Traveller is the product of three UN agencies joining forces – the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“Tourists are global citizens and with over one billion tourists travelling the world each year, they can become a force of good,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai during the campaign’s launch at the International Tourism Bourse in Berlin, Germany.

“Making the right ethical choice as consumers reduces the demand for illegal products and contributes to preserve natural and cultural assets that form an invaluable part of the heritage of the communities and people we visit,” he continued.

“Travellers have a responsibility not to contribute to the profits being generated through organized crime,” added UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov, who emphasized that travellers need to understand the exploitative nature of the sale of persons, animal products, drugs, cultural artefacts or counterfeit goods.

Supporting the UN’s major goal of combatting unlawful trade worldwide, the campaign is meant to inform tourists so they can take action by making responsible consumer choices. It provides guidance on how to recognize the most common illicit goods and services that they might encounter while traveling, including, among others, trafficking in persons, wildlife, and illegal drugs.

Emphasizing the link between the protection of cultural heritage and the protection of people, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova explained that “tourists are easy targets for dealers selling cultural artefacts of doubtful provenance,” as they are “usually unaware that these ‘souvenirs’ may be stolen heritage, ripped away from their original settings, illegally excavated from archaeological sites, or traded by unscrupulous individuals offering meagre payment.”

The new campaign is supported by two major tourism companies – Marriott International and Sabre Holdings – which have agreed to promote its anti-trafficking message with their customers and employees through their websites, newsletters, and/or social media.

Aside from the heads of the three UN organizations, participating at the launch were the newly-appointed chairperson of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics and former Executive Director of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Pascal Lamy, who said: “In light of the ever-growing number of international tourists, we need to promote a more ethical and responsible behaviour among travellers. A central focus of the Committee will be reaching out to young people, spreading the anti-trafficking message to future generations of travellers.”