This year, World Tourism Day highlights the potential of tourism to promote community development.
As travellers and consumers, every one of us can contribute to this worthy goal. But if we want tourism to be a force for empowerment and development, we must also stop tourists and the tourism industry from becoming unwitting accomplices to organized crime.
Human trafficking and the trafficking of drugs, wildlife, counterfeit goods and cultural artefacts threaten the rights and safety of people, devastate the environment and rob communities of their heritage.
We need to help ensure that the same infrastructure and opportunities that enable tourism are not misused for the exploitation of people or of natural and cultural resources.
That is why UNODC joined forces with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on a global campaign, 'Your Actions Count - Be a Responsible Traveller', to raise awareness about the most common illicit goods and services that tourists might encounter on their travels.
We aim to help tourists and the tourism industry make informed, responsible choices. That means learning to recognize situations that may involve sexual exploitation or forced labour; thinking twice before buying or consuming goods derived from protected wild animals or forest products, or purchasing cultural artefacts that may be stolen or illegal to export; and realizing that behind the "bargain" counterfeit goods or drugs being offered are criminals who exploit workers and endanger public health and safety.
People need to understand that by buying products and services linked to organized crime they may be contributing to human rights abuses and the despoiling of natural and cultural resources, as well as undermining local production and livelihoods, thereby hurting communities and their very potential for sustainable development.
With people travelling more than ever, actions can have an enormous impact.
By reducing demand for illicit goods and services, tourists and the tourism industry can help slash the profits of organized crime and stop exploitation.