TACLOBAN CITY – The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) urged tourism-related businesses to adopt climate change mitigation measures, as global demand for responsible tourism rises. In his brief visit in this storm-ravaged province last May 17, UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said that more business are now joining the drive for more environment-friendly operation, hence reducing the risks of climate change. “I am sure that every day, we have more tourism businesses that are committing themselves to reduce the risk of climate change. The travelers are demanding that. They want to go to places that respect the environment,” Rifai said. He said that climate change poses an increasing risk for tourism operations in many destinations. The UNWTO calls for improving resilience to climate change due to coastal erosion, damage to coral reefs, destruction of infrastructure and property, and threats to human life and health. “Responsible and sustainable tourism is the keyword. The more people travel the world responsibly, the better the world will become. If one billion tourists decide that they do not want to change their sheets every day in the hotel, it will have a great impact on our environment,” he added. Rifai noted that hotels and resorts have been initiating measures that would respond to the worst impacts of natural calamities like using a fraction of their profits for mangrove reforestation. “Business owners should realize that the tourism industry will be gone if our environment is destroyed,” he said. “Tourism is a human activity that is overwhelming. There are one billion international travelers across borders. There are six billion domestic trips within boundaries. Any human activity will have an impact on the environment and people,” Rifai said. Global tourism receipts grew by 5 percent from 1.03 billion in 2012 to 1.08 billion last year, according to UNWTO. Travel and tourism accounts 29 percent of the world’s exports of services and 6% of overall exports of goods and services. The UNWTO chief was in Leyte to see the devastation of super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) and meet tourism stakeholders. He also inspected the site for the Department of Tourism and UNWTO RE3START (Recover, Rebuild and Resilience through Sustainable Tourism with climate change Adaptation and Renewable energy for The Philippines) Center in Palo, Leyte. (SARWELL Q. MENIANO)