Liberty of tourism movements and rights of tourism workers are among the issues addressed by a global tourism ethics code
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — World leaders meeting in Madrid this week said it’s time to focus on the ethics of tourism and pointed out the potential pitfalls if one of the planet’s biggest industries doesn’t live up to the high standards that it set for itself.
It’s especially critical for developing countries to implement ethically based tourism standards and to demand the same from multinational corporations looking to invest, officials said during the first International Congress on Ethics and Tourism, held in Madrid Sept. 15 -16.
“A tourism sector without an ethical conscience can harm our planet,” said United Nations World Tourism Organization Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. “We need to place ethics, responsibility and sustainability at the core of all our actions and ensure the adoption of and adherence to the principles of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism,” he said.
“With nearly one billion tourists crossing international borders, tourism is one of the best way for people to experience, interact with and learn from new cultures. This cultural exchange spurs dialogue among nations and peoples, fostering mutual understanding, respect and ultimately, peace,” he said. Rifai pointed to the extraordinary growth of the tourism sector over the past decades and the opportunities for jobs, economic development and social empowerment this represents for millions of people.
“In today’s global economic climate, it is more important than ever for all sectors to follow ethical principles,” said Joan Mesquida, representing Spain at the conference. “Today is an opportunity to assess the implementation of the ethical framework for the tourism sector. We have made every effort to ensure that those countries in which tourism development is just beginning, and with which we sign cooperation agreements, govern according to these principles and demand the same of the multinationals that invest in their countries,” he said.
The global code of ethics for tourism was adopted by the World Tourism Organization in 1999 and addresses topics like the liberty of tourist movements and the rights of workers in the tourism industry, something akin to a global tourism bill of rights:
Article 1: Tourism’s contribution to mutual understanding and respect between peoples and societies
Article 2: Tourism as a vehicle for individual and collective fulfilment
Article 3: Tourism, a factor of sustainable development
Article 4: Tourism, a user of the cultural heritage of mankind and contributor to its enhancement
Article 5: Tourism, a beneficial activity for host countries and communities
Article 6: Obligations of stakeholders in tourism development
Article 7: Right to tourism
Article 8: Liberty of tourist movements
Article 9: Rights of the workers and entrepreneurs in the tourism industry
Article 10: Implementation of the principles of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.
Visit the UNWTO’s ethics web page for the full text of the code, background information and implementation reports.
Ethical tourism can contribute to the long-term sustainability of the global economy, said UN representative Jorge Sampaio.
“Sustainability requires a common vision of basic values in our increasingly interdependent world,” he said. “Because it involves the movement of millions of people, tourism can play a pivotal role in creating a shared sense of responsibility.”
The conference brought together over 450 tourism officials, business leaders, international organizations and experts in the field of ethics and tourism to debate how to guarantee a truly responsible and sustainable tourism sector. The two-day meeting addressed questions of gender equality, tourism’s role in poverty reduction, sustainable tourism practices in both the public and private sector, and codes of ethical conduct.