ADVANCING AN INTERNATIONAL CODE FOR PROTECTION OF TOURISTS

The Committee for the Development of an International Code for the Protection of Tourists has met for a second time, bringing the establishment of the landmark legal framework a step closer to being realised.

The UNWTO hosted the consultative virtual meeting which counted on the participation of 92 Member States, as well as one Associate Member.

Joining them to inform the discussions were legal experts from several global regions, all of them members of the special Consultative Group as well as introducing the Observers, international organisations both governmental and non-governmental that will join forces with UNWTO in the development of the Code and guarantee that the result is a well representative and balanced set of standards

The diverse range of observers reflected the strong interest in an International Code designed to offer tourists greater protection as consumers and to spread the responsibility of assisting tourists affected by emergency situations across the whole of the sector.

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, which is responsible for the EU’s tourism policies highlighted its interest in following this project in view of the potential commonalities with the Commission’s work. 

Joining them were the representative from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD, the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) and the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). Additionally, and highlighting strong interest from the private sector in the work of the Committee, a number of business organisations and member groups took part as observers, among them the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Hotrec, which represents the European hospitality sector.

The recommendations are addressed at states and are designed to ensure that responsibility for tourists in emergency situations is shared fairly across the whole of the tourism value chain, including:

  • Preventing possible disruptions by drawing up contingency plans and coordination protocols and training tourism stakeholders to assist tourists in emergency situations
  • Providing real-time information for tourists
  • Addressing cross-border cooperation between governments and tourism service providers
  • Fostering close collaboration between governments and travel and accommodation providers
  • Addressing the effective repatriation of tourists.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Uncertainty and a lack of trust in travel are among the biggest challenges we face as we work to restart tourism. An International Code for the Protection of Tourists will be a landmark step towards addressing this. Establishing a standard set of minimum consumer protection standards for tourists will help make people feel safer and more confident in international travel. And it will also ensure that the responsibility of managing the disruptions caused by this pandemic is shared fairly across the whole of our sector.”

It is anticipated another report on the development of the International Code for the Protection of Tourists will be presented at the next UNWTO General Assembly (end of 2021 in Marrakech, Morocco) for approval by Member States.

Participants of the Committee also elected a Chair (Brazil) and Vice-Chair (Greece).

(PHOTO – UNITED AIRLINES)

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