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Users' Manual on the Biodiversity and Tourism Development Guidelines

CBD Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development


International guidelines for activities related to sustainable tourism development in vulnerable terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems and habitats of major importance for biological diversity and protected areas, including fragile riparian and mountain ecosystems

A. Scope

B. The policy-making, development planning and management process

  1. Baseline information
  2. Vision and goals
  3. Objectives
  4. Legislation and control measures
  5. Impact assessment
  6. Impact management and mitigation
  7. Decision-making
  8. Implementation
  9. Monitoring and reporting
  10. Adaptive management

C. Notification process and information requirements

D. Education, capacity-building and awareness-raising

2. Vision and goals


21. An overall vision for sustainable tourism development in harmony with the goals and objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity and other related conventions, such as the World Heritage Convention, is important for the effective management of tourism and biodiversity, and for ensuring that this also contributes to income generation and poverty reduction and a reduction of threats to biodiversity. The vision developed at the local level, while reflecting local priorities and realities, should take into account, as appropriate, national and regional tourism development strategies, policies and plans for economic and social development and for land-use, as well as the baseline information and review. It should be based on a multi-stakeholder process including indigenous and local communities that are or may be affected by tourism development.


22. The main goals are established to maximize the positive benefits of tourism to biodiversity, ecosystems, and economic and social development, and of biodiversity to tourism, while minimizing negative social and environmental impacts from tourism, and can cover, inter alia:

  1. Maintenance of the structure and functioning of ecosystems;
  2. Sustainable tourism compatible with biodiversity conservation and sustainable use;
  3. Fair and equitable sharing of benefits of tourism activities, with emphasis on the specific needs of the indigenous and local communities concerned;
  4. Integration and interrelation with other plans, developments or activities in the same area;
  5. Information and capacity-building;
  6. Poverty reduction, through the generation of sufficient revenues and employment to effectively reduce threats to biodiversity in indigenous and local communities;
  7. Protection of indigenous livelihoods, resources and of access to those resources;
  8. Diversification of economic activities beyond tourism to reduce dependency on tourism;
  9. Prevention of any lasting damage to biological diversity, ecosystems, and natural resources, and of social and cultural damage, and restoration of past damage where appropriate;
  10. Supporting the effective participation and involvement of representatives of indigenous and local communities in the development, operation and monitoring of tourism activities on lands and waters traditionally occupied by them
  11. Zoning and control of tourism developments and activities, including licensing and overall targets for and limits to the scale of tourism, to provide a range of activities for user groups that meet overall visions and goals;
  12. Empowerment through participation in decision-making;
  13. Access by indigenous and local communities to infrastructure, transport, communications and healthcare provisions laid on for tourists;
  14. Increased safety for indigenous local communities;
  15. Increased social pride;
  16. Control of tourism development and activities including licensing and clear indication on the limits to the scale and type of tourism development.

23. In relation to sharing of benefits arising from tourism and the conservation of biodiversity with indigenous and local communities, it should be noted that benefits may take various forms, including: job creation, fostering local enterprises, participation in tourism enterprises and projects, education, direct investment opportunities, economic linkages and ecological services. Appropriate mechanisms need to be established/ evolved to capture the benefits.

24. The vision and goals will form the basis of national strategies or master plans for sustainable development of tourism in relation to biodiversity. Such plans should also incorporate consideration of biodiversity strategies and plans. In addition, biodiversity strategies and plans should include consideration of tourism issues.

25. Governments will normally coordinate this process at national level. This process may also be undertaken at more local levels by local government, and by communities at community level. Where local and community level vision and goals for tourism and biodiversity have been set, these may be taken into account by governments when preparing the national level vision and goals, for example through workshops at the local level.


  1. (1)For the purposes of the present Guidelines "indigenous and local communities" means "indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity"
  2. (2) Monitoring at World Heritage sites should be designed to also incorporate the World Heritage criteria upon which the site was inscribed. The monitoring system should be designed to contribute to the World Heritage periodic reporting structure, aimed at gathering information on the state of conservation of the site