The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and China have opened a third Sustainable Tourism Observatory to monitor the environmental and socio-economic impacts of tourism.
The Zhangjiajie Observatory, located in Hunan Province, is part of a network of observatories assisting policy makers to ensure sustainable tourism growth. It will gather and report data on the environmental, social, and economic impacts of tourism in the area based on UNWTO sustainable tourism indictors.
The Observatory is located at the entrance to the Zhangjiajie National Park, China’s first national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The park was also the inspiration for the Hollywood blockbuster “Avatar.” Thanks in large part to this natural attraction, tourism has boomed in the region, generating economic wealth, jobs, and development opportunities for local residents. Zhangjiajie receives up to 40,000 tourists a day during its high season.
“Tourism authorities in Zhangjiajie are well aware of the importance of tourism to the local economy, but more importantly, of the need to manage this growth sustainably,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, “The Observatory represents a vital tool for doing so, providing tourism organizations with the information they need to move forward sustainably.”
The Zhangjiajie Observatory is part of the Global Observatory on Sustainable Tourism (GOST) initiative, established by UNWTO to support sustainable tourism policies.
The two other observatories currently in operation are located in Yangshuo and Huangshan, and are, alongside Zhangjiajie Observatory, managed by the Monitoring Centre based in Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China.