While most travellers already know the importance of sustainable tourism, the beloved character Hello Kitty is working to spread the message even further as the new UN special ambassador to promote responsible travel.
The UN named 2017 the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism Development” and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has spent the year promoting responsible travel around the world. Part of the campaign centres on the concept of “Travel. Enjoy. Respect.” which encourages tourists to use travel to promote positive change around the world. The loveable Japanese cartoon is now sharing that message with the world. “Travelling opens our minds and our hearts, and lets us see how we are equal,” said Hello Kitty in a video inviting people to take part in the campaign. “Travelling is a gift. When you travel, remember to honour our place. Respect nature, respect culture and respect your host.”
During the past year, the need for sustainable tourism has come to the forefront in destinations around the world. In Europe, cities like Venice and Barcelona have been trying to figure out ways to deal with over-tourism and the impact it has on local communities. In some spots, like Amsterdam, raising the tourism tax is the top option for offsetting the impact of so many visitors. Regions that have seen sudden tourism boosts – like Croatia and Iceland following the filming of Game of Thrones – have had to quickly cope with the changes that mass tourism can bring. The island nation of Palau is asking visitors to sign an oath stating that they will travel responsibly, respecting the archipelago’s lush islands and beautiful turquoise waters.