September 27th marks World Tourism Day (WTD) 2012 and the theme this year is apt for Wildlife Alliance’s community-based ecotourism work in Southwestern Cambodia. The purpose of WTD is to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. It intends to highlight the contribution the tourism sector can make in combating some of our global challenges. This year, the theme of World Tourism Day is Tourism & Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development. Wildlife Alliance’s Community-Based Ecotourism (CBET) project in Chi Phat and Trapeang Roung villages is the perfect example of how sustainable tourism solutions can power sustainable development. By providing alternative, climate-smart livelihoods to former wildlife poachers and slash-and-burn farmers, not only is our CBET project helping stop the destruction of the forest but it is ensuring that future development will be sustainable for the environment and the human population. This contribution has not gone unheeded. The Cambodian Ministry of Tourism has recognized the Chi Phat CBET as the leading ecotourism site in the country and its importance to Cambodian tourism has contributed, just in the last year, to the cancellation of two huge economic land concessions that would have decimated the natural surroundings. People outside Cambodia are taking notice as well. Recently, the Boston Globe and the Washington Post have written articles heralding the experience at both CBET sites. Our hope is that with continued support from our donors, we will be able to increase the capacity at both sites and grow the projects into self-sustaining tourism destinations that promote rural Cambodian culture, sustainable development, and responsible stewardship of ecotourism sites.
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