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MRG calls for the tourism industry to respect indigenous rights on World Responsible Tourism Day

10 November 2007

On World Responsible Tourism Day, Minority Rights Group International (MRG), warns that in many countries with tourism industries, minority and indigenous communities have been forced out of their land in order to build wildlife and nature resorts. They continue to be denied access to their ancestral homes and rarely benefit from the income generated through tourism.

“Often tourists choose the eco-friendly option because they are sensitive to the environment but they are oblivious to the extent and impact of displacement of indigenous communities in such cases,” says Cynthia Morel, MRG’s legal officer.

In Kenya, for instance, Endorois pastoralist communities were forcefully evicted from their ancestral lands without proper compensation to make way for the Lake Bogoria Game Reserve that attracts thousands of tourists every year.

UN sponsored World Responsible Tourism Day, 14 November 2007, is an opportunity for tourists and tour operators to “help local people wherever they might be, provide them with shelter, jobs, clean water, food and education. Protect them from exploitation, corruption and deceit.”

Examples of eco-tourism that have included the local indigenous population do exist. The Huaorani in Ecuador were involved in nine months of planning about their tourism strategy with a tour operator, before the project was established.

Earlier this year MRG launched the Trouble in Paradise campaign pushing for holidaymakers and countries promoting environmentally-friendly tourism to be more aware of the impact of eco-tourism on indigenous communities in the destinations they travel to.

“Often the communities get only a miniscule percentage of what the tourism industry generates. People are overwhelmingly marginalised in the process of development and holidaymakers need to be more conscious about this,” Morel adds.

The campaign aims to ensure that countries promoting eco-tourism don’t infringe on the rights of indigenous groups and that the profits of tourism trickle down to local communities.

Notes for editors

  • For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:
    • The MRG Press Office on [email protected]
    • Wilson Kipkazi, Secretary of the Endorois Community in Kenya – +254 72 154 9649
  • For more information on MRG’s Trouble in Paradise campaign, click here
  • For copies of a Witness DVD on the Endorois community in Kenya contact the MRG Press Office on [email protected].
  • Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a non-governmental organisation working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide.