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Make a Good Buy

Overview

Tourists, traders and the tourism industry are largely unaware of complex regulations on international trade. Some travelers don’t think twice about buying wildlife like Mexican parrots orproducts made from turtles, iguanas and coral—all protected by domestic or international laws. Shop keepers are often unaware that some of the wildlife products require export permits or may be illegal to take back to the United States or Europe. Wildlife smugglers have even posed as cruise tourists, using the anonymity of mass tourism to poach rare species.

Why it matters

  • Every year, millions of tourists in the Caribbean and Mexico buy wildlife curios as souvenirs—often with no inkling that they are supporting unsustainable and illegal wildlife trade. In several market surveys, TRAFFIC found thousands of marine turtle products for sale in ports and markets throughout the Caribbean—including products from the critically endangered hawksbill turtle which is protected under domestic and international laws.

What WWF is doing

Educating Tourists

A major step toward lasting change is educating well-meaning tourists about seemingly innocent purchases. Many consumers are simply confused about what types of souvenirs are available, where they are from and whether or not they are legal and sustainable. They don’t realize their purchases can have far-reaching impacts on the natural beauty they have traveled so far to see. There are simple guidelines to follow if you are considering a souvenir on your next vacation: Make a Good Buy Brochure.

Working with Business & Industry

Cruise lines have numerous opportunities to influence passengers’ buying behaviors. WWF is exploring partnerships with cruise lines in order to develop a campaign to help passengers make good buys that benefit wildlife and local economies. Simple proactive measures can save tourists from unwise and illegal purchases. Training for cruise line staff on wildlife products and laws can also help prevent problems onboard. Cruise lines and tour operators can invest in awareness programs which empower passengers to make informed decisions. If you are affiliated with a cruise line or travel agent and are interested in learning more, contact us.

Influencing Governments

TRAFFIC works on capacity building for local inspectors, security and customs to help identify and curb illegal wildlife trade in Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic. We encourage governments to promote the message of “a good buy” in their top travel destinations. For example, we work with the Mexican government to raise awareness on wildlife trade in the main cruise ports of the Yucatan Peninsula. Our combined efforts send a strong message that governments in the region are committed to conserving wildlife. At the same time, we emphasize thattourists and travel operators play a vital role in saving nature through smart choices.

How you can help

Being a conscientious consumer is daunting, especially in a foreign country. There are simple things that you can do to make a change for the better. Read More

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