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Wildlife Trade Specialists

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Published 19th December 2019

  English 

30 tour guides trained to promote sustainable tourism

Luang Prabang, Lao PDR, 19th December 2019—a social marketing training workshop was held today in Luang Prabang for 30 local tour guides to enhance their ability to help Chinese tourists avoid the risk of buying illegal wildlife products while travelling in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). 


The workshop took place as part of a collective effort to promote responsible tourism and reduce illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia, and was co-organised by WWF-Laos, WWF-China and TRAFFIC in collaboration with Trip.com (the largest online travel agency in Asia), Intrepid Group (the largest small group adventure travel company in the world), and the Luang Prabang Provincial Offices of Forest Inspection and of Information Culture and Tourism. 

The responsible tourism initiative’s aim is to steer travellers in Lao PDR away from opportunities to become engaged in illegal wildlife trade.

With the ivory trade ban in China implemented at the end of 2017 and the growing purchasing power of Chinese consumers, some Chinese nationals have been tempted into buying ivory and other illegal wildlife products while travelling to Southeast Asia. 

A recent study of ivory consumption by Chinese nationals identified outbound travelers as a key group of past and potential buyers of Ivory.

"Given the influx of Chinese business and leisure travellers into Laos, we believe this is a critical moment to engage tour guides to help address illegal wildlife trade in the country," said Khamkhoun Khounbolin, Wildlife Coordinator of WWF Laos. “To curb the poaching of endangered species, reducing the demand for their products is key, and currently that demand is emanating from visitors of some East Asian countries.”

Over 30 tour guides who work primarily with Chinese tourists participated in the training event, which included background information on the smuggling of illegal wildlife products across borders, and on what it means to participate in sustainable tourism. Participants role-played potential scenarios, such as talking potential buyers out of buying illegal wildlife products, telling customers about the legal consequences of transporting such products home, and identifying alternative products that could legally be purchased as souvenirs. At the end of the day, participants took a pledge towards promoting sustainable tourism practices and to working to prevent their customers from purchasing illegal wildlife products.

“Collaboration with the tourism industry is key to helping combat wildlife trafficking,” said James Compton, TRAFFIC’s Senior Director for the Asia-Pacific. 

“In some instances tour guides, on behalf of the tourists, are helping facilitate purchases and the smuggling of wildlife products across the border into China. This training aims to stop this and make tour guides more aware of the penalties involved for them and the tourists, in order to support the government of Lao PDR’s efforts to promote sustainable tourism.” 

This event was co-funded by the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the European Commission (EC).