Tourists are to be given greater legal protection as consumers under new plans being advanced by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). With restoring confidence a key priority for the sector, the International Code for the Protection of Tourists advanced by UNWTO will make the support available to tourists affected by emergency situations clearer and more consistent globally. It has the support of almost 100 Member States so far.
In its first meeting, the Committee for the Development of an International Code for the Protection of Tourists has featured the active participation of 92 UNWTO Member States. Together, they adopted a concrete plan of action to restore tourists’ confidence through a common framework. In the coming weeks, international organisations, the European Commission and private stakeholders will be called upon to join the initiative. It promises a fairer and more balanced share of responsibilities among all tourism stakeholders in the post COVID-19 world.
Helping tourists in trouble
Ahead of this week’s meeting, UNWTO published the Recommendations for the Assistance to International Tourists in Emergency Situations, laying the groundwork for the International Code for the Protection of Tourists.
The recommendations 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 a progress 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) for approval by Member States.
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