Maximizing tourism’s contribution as a main driver of economic growth and development, UNWTO is currently implementing numerous programmes to reduce poverty, fight gender inequality and foster sustainable development. The Sustainable Tourism-Eliminating Poverty (ST-EP) is UNWTO’s long-term programme aimed at reducing poverty through developing and promoting sustainable forms of tourism. To date, UNWTO has implemented over 90 ST-EP projects in 31 countries. UNWTO is also actively involved in several projects funded by the MDG Achievement Fund, an international cooperation mechanism financed by the Government of Spain to speed up progress towards the Goals. The projects focus on areas such as the promotion of rural tourism to alleviate rural poverty and supporting the development of small tourism businesses.
UNWTO is also actively promoting sustainable tourism, one that makes optimal use of environmental resources, maintains essential ecological processes and conserves natural heritage and biodiversity, in the pursuit of MDG 7 - Environmental Sustainability. This year in particular, within the framework of the UN International Year for Biodiversity, World Tourism Day 2010 (WTD) will take place under the theme ‘Tourism and Biodiversity’ (China, 27 September). Highlighting tourism’s role in conserving biodiversity, WTD also raises awareness of how continued biodiversity loss hampers efforts to meet other MDGS, especially those related to poverty, hunger and health.