UNWTO has opened a third ‘Sustainable Tourism Observatory’ in China, to monitor the environmental and socio-economic impacts of tourism.
The Zhangjiajie Observatory, located in Hunan province, will gather and report data on the environmental, social and economic impacts of tourism in the area. 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 movie, ‘Avatar’. Thanks in large part to this natural attraction, tourism has boomed in the region, generating development opportunities for the local community, and Zhangjiajie now 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 organisations with the information they need to move forward sustainably.”
The Zhangjiajie Observatory is part of the Global Observatory on Sustainable Tourism (GOST) initiative. 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 in Guangzhou.