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UN wants tourists to tackle cross-border crime

Photo by Carolina K. Smith MD
Photo by Carolina K. Smith MD

The UN has set up a new project encouraging tourists to help tackle cross-border smuggling and trafficking.

In the presence of the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has signed an agreement with the UN Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC) to launch a new public awareness campaign calling on tourists to help reduce demand for illicit goods, which are linked to international organised crime

To be launched later this year, the joint campaign aims to raise awareness among international tourists about illicit goods and services and how to make ethical consumer choices. The goal is to reduce tourist demand for illicit drugs, counterfeit goods, arms, cultural artefacts, wildlife and ivory products, and to tackle human trafficking.

“The illegal trade in goods and services often funds unscrupulous people involved in human trafficking, the illicit ivory trade and other areas that cause immense suffering and destruction. Well-informed tourists can make a real difference in turning the tide against these criminal acts,” explained Ban Ki-moon.

The campaign drives the message that while some products may seem harmless, the demand created and their sale can have devastating effects on the lives of innocent people, wildlife or cultural heritage. It also highlights the fact that the billions of dollars generated through such trade funds criminal groups.

“Although the infrastructure of tourism – from accommodation establishments to transportation networks – can be misused by traffickers to victimise the vulnerable, tourism has the potential and is firmly committed to reclaim this same infrastructure and use it in the fight against trafficking,” said UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai. “Through coordinated efforts, we can ensure that awareness travels – that tourism authorities, travel companies and tourists join us on this fight.”

The campaign will seek to engage the tourism industry to raise awareness of illegal cross-border trade among tourists.

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