Given the present economic crisis, it is particularly important to implement the ethical principles stated in the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. This is the main message to emerge from the recent meeting of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics (San José, Costa Rica, 18-19 June).
The Committee called on governments and tourism employers to recognize the ethical challenges posed by job losses; the decline in the quality of products and services and the impact of the crisis particularly with regards to small operators, tour guides, local service providers and communities. The Committee underlined that governments and employers in travel & tourism should "seek alternative and innovative actions to limit the loss of employment and the lowering of conditions and remuneration for existing jobs". In addition the Committee encourages public and private stakeholders to engage with employees who are directly affected and at risk of becoming unemployed. Consultations with the relevant trade unions should take place wherever possible and should be held in line with the Conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and other relevant international standards. The World Committee on Tourism Ethics further calls on governments:
to minimise obstacles to travel such as restrictions, particularly with regards to people with disabilities and those affected by HIV; and
to address measures which delay the issuance of visas, to reduce the cost and deal with complications which are slowly impinging on the rights of people to travel in accordance with Art. 8.1 and 8.4 of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.
Concern regarding the impact of influenza A(H1N1) on economic activities was also expressed. Governments are called upon not to introduce unnecessary restrictions on travel that are disproportionate to the actual threat and will harm an industry which makes an important contribution to the employment rate and economy of most countries and communities. The Committee reaffirmed its view that the respect of human rights, of non-discrimination and of freedom of movement are fundamental values inherent to tourism and are pre-requisites for any successful tourism activity. UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism