Published 23 April 2021

China’s tourism industry commits to strengthening its efforts in tackling wildlife trafficking

China, 23rd April 2021: Global leaders from China’s tourism industry have pledged their commitment to tackling the illegal trade of wildlife by signing the Tourism Industry’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Convention created by the World Tourism Federation (WTA) and China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA), at a dedicated event hosted by TRAFFIC’s China office.

The convention asks signatories from the tourism industry to train staff to detect and report any illegal wildlife trade or suspicions of illicit trade to law enforcement. The convention also encourages tourism operators to offer increasing ecotourism experiences and promote ethical travel to their customers while engaging them on the issue of wildlife protection and refusing to buy illegally sourced wildlife products on holiday.

Every year, there are many cases of tourists being caught illegally carrying wildlife products from endangered species into China.”

Yang Liuying, Second class inspector of Anti-Smuggling Bureau of General Administration of China Customs“Without the relevant import and export permits, mailing or carrying any endangered wildlife parts or products into or out of China is illegal, and may be confiscated and prosecuted by the China Customs."

Chinese tourists made 160 million overseas trips in 2019; making them the largest outbound travellers globally, yet some of these tourists unwittingly fuel the illegal wildlife trade while on holiday by eating or purchasing illegal wildlife products.

In particular, Chinese citizens are likely to return with illegal items, such as ivory and rhino horn as souvenirs after visiting Southeast Asia and Africa. Customs authorities in China repeatedly catch citizens illegally bringing ivory and other products from endangered species into the country upon returning from their vacations.

To help overcome this issue, a suite of behaviour change tools are now available in Chinese to support the government, the tourism industry and others who have an active role to play in combatting the illegal trade of wildlife.

“Behaviour change and educational actions by tourism companies can help reduce illegal wildlife trade,” said Xu Ling, Director of TRAFFIC’s China office (a non-governmental organisation which works globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development). “Outbound travellers continue to be major consumers of wildlife products from endangered species. To understand their motivations, and to make our work more effective, TRAFFIC and its partners are exploring science-based behavioural change approaches to address consumer behaviour.”

The behaviour change tools, developed and adapted by TRAFFIC, can be accessed via

Liu Shijun, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Alliance, said: “As a tourism practitioner, we cannot limit our vision to the tourism industry itself, but should have a higher structure and a sense of responsibility that allows more people to realize the role and potential of tourism in promoting social development."


The activity was kindly supported by The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural affairs (DEFRA) through the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund