“Anti-trafficking Campaign: Your actions count – help fight trafficking!”

5 March 2014 - World Tourism Fair (ITB Berlin) – Berlin – UNESCO, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and the International Bureau for the Fight against Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched a global campaign against different forms of illicit trafficking, including against the trafficking of cultural property.

’Your Actions Count – Be a Responsible Traveler’ campaign aims to raise awareness about the most common illicit goods and services that tourists might be exposed to while travelling, and provides guidance to recognize possible situations of trafficking in persons, wildlife, cultural artefacts, illicit drugs and counterfeit goods.

The illicit traffic of cultural property is a problem that touches every region of the world. Practices of looting, theft and illegal exports affect museums, public and private collections, cultural institutions, places of worship as well as archaeological sites worldwide. It causes irreparable damage to cultural heritage, and deprives a community of its memory, the physical testimony of its past. Preserving cultural heritage must be a constant worldwide concern, as lost or destroyed cultural heritage is nonrenewable. This issue is particularly alarming in times of crisis, such as in Iraq, Egypt, Mali or Syria. Tourists must know and be well aware that, for example, nowadays, buying Iraqi or Syrian cultural objects is being in collusion with traffickers and unscrupulous looters.

Irina Bokova, the UNESCO Director-General, speaking during at the launch in Berlin, reminded the audience that “Tourists are easy targets for dealers selling cultural artifacts of doubtful provenance. They are usually unaware that these ‘souvenirs’ may be stolen heritage – ripped away from their original settings, illegally excavated from archeological sites, or traded by unscrupulous individuals offering meagre payment. Their loss can inflict great damage and sorrow on their rightful owners, for whom such items are an intrinsic part of their cultural identities and values.”

"We say that the illicit traffic of cultural property is estimated at $ 7 billion per year, but this is not a question of money: the looting of cultural property is a theft of identities and history of a people, and we must fight all our forces. I hope this campaign will help make any tourist a more respectful of other cultures and ambassador of a more sustainable world. This campaign is not just a campaign on tourism, but on citizenship" concluded Irina Bokova.

The campaign is supported by Marriott International and Sabre Holdings and both will be promoting this important message among their millions of customers.

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