Tour guides get lessons on ways to prevent purchase of wildlife products
A workshop titled ‘Sustainable Tourism, Refuse Illegal Wildlife Products Specialized Training for Tour Guides’ was held here on 19 Dec 2019 in Luang Prabang province for 30 tour guides, as part of a collective effort to promote responsible tourism and reduce the illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia.
Wildlife Coordinator of WWF-Laos, Mr. Khamkhoun Khounbolin, who co-chaired the workshop said: “Given the influx of Chinese business and leisure travelers into Laos, we believe this is a critical moment to engage tour guides to help address the illegal wildlife trade.”
“Our goal is to curb the poaching of endangered species. Reducing the demand for these products is key, and currently, that demand is emanating from visitors from some East Asian countries.”
Senior Programme Manager of WWF/TRAFFIC’s China office, Ms. Ling Xu, said collaboration with the tourism industry is key to helping combat wildlife trafficking. She said that in some instances, tour guides, on behalf of tourists, help facilitate the smuggling of wildlife products across the border into China. The training aims to stop this, make tour guides more aware of the penalties involved, for them and the tourists, and to support the Lao government’s efforts in this regard.
According to WWF-Laos, the aim of the responsible tourism initiative is to steer travelers in Laos away from opportunities to become engaged in illegal wildlife trade. Over 30 tour guides who work primarily with Chinese tourists attended the training session, which included background information on the smuggling of illegal wildlife products across borders, and on what it means to participate in sustainable tourism.
Participants role-played potential scenarios, such as talking potential buyers out of buying illegal wildlife products, telling customers about the legal consequences of taking such products home, and identifying alternative products that could legally be purchased as souvenirs.
At the end of the day, participants took a pledge to promote sustainable tourism practices and to prevent their customers from buying illegal wildlife products.
The workshop was co-organized by World Wide Fund for Nature in Laos (WWF-Laos), WWF-China and TRAFFIC in collaboration with Trip.com (the largest online travel agency in Asia), Intrepid Group (the largest small group adventure travel company in the world), and the Luang Prabang provincial offices of Forest Inspection and Information, Culture and Tourism.
The event was co-funded by the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the European Commission.
Representatives from WWF-Laos, WWF/TRAFFIC China, the provincial Agriculture, and Forestry Office, Forest Inspection Department, and the EU Delegation to Laos attended the workshop.
(Source: Vientiane Times Newspaper).