UNWTO and Water on the Ground



People are naturally attracted to water destinations, to coastal wetlands such as coral reefs and beaches, and to inland wetlands such as lakes and rivers, reflecting the strong bond between people and nature as well as the unique aesthetic appeal of wetlands.

Despite the diversification of the global tourism market, coastal and beach tourism remains the dominant segment in terms of number of tourists. As such, water destinations are a significant part of the global tourism experience and likely to be a key part of the expansion in demand for tourism locations.

Tourism in wetlands offers many positive opportunities at the national, regional and local levels, including economic benefits to national and local economies, support for local livelihoods and local cultures, and, importantly, support for wetland conservation. Yet, as with any natural resource, the world’s water destinations can be only enjoyed by tourists today and tomorrow if their visits are managed sustainably. Due to steadily increasing demand and tourist activities highly concentrated in time and space, coastal and island destinations experiences pressures on their natural and cultural resources.

UNWTO is continuously working to promote sustainable tourism development in water destinations through international and regional collaboration, technical cooperation, research, capacity building activities and publications.

Follow the links below for some examples of UNWTO’s on-the-ground work related to water!


Indonesia: Mangrove and coral reef restoration

Cambodia: Protecting the Mekong River

Cameroon: Developing ecotourism products along the Kribi coastline