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Tourism Code of Ethics for Travel Advisories

A country’s ill-written travel advisory could be extremely damaging for tourism to the pertinent destination. Fortunately, one of the issues that emerged from the World Tourism Organization’s tourism code of ethics is the proper drafting of travel advisories.

At its general assembly held in Dakar last month, the WTO presented recommendations of good practices on advisories. The recommendations, and a guide, were drawn up of a special working group created by the organization.

The WTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, according to the organization’s deputy secretary general, has been translated into 35 different languages and has already been adopted by several countries as part of its tourism legislation or regulations.

At the Second Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations held in New York last month, Dr. de Villiers said that “In the five years since its adoption the code has been recognized and welcomed by more and more stakeholders in the tourism industry as a valuable tool to guide the development of sustainable tourism.

He said the strength of the code lies in its simplicity. “Together, the ten articles constitute a powerful set of guidelines that provides clear direction for the development of a tourism industry that is socially responsible, culturally sensitive, environmentally sound and economically fair.”

The introduction of the voluntary code, after being approved by the WTO general assembly held in Santiago, Chile, in 1999, demonstrates that not all kinds of tourism are acceptable, he said. “Opportunistic and unguided tourist development can have a profound negative impact on the natural and cultural environment as well as on the social lives of people in receiving destinations – particularly in developing countries.

“In the absence of sound development policies tourism can contribute to pollution and environmental degradation; lead to the exploitation of people and local communities – particularly women and children – offend traditional cultural values and customs and provide a cover for criminal activities.”

He said that the challenge is to “maximize the positive impacts of tourism,” and to achieve this the World Committee on Tourism Ethics was set up in 2003 to promote, evaluate and monitor the implementation of the code as well as acting as conciliators in settling any disputes involving the application or interpretation of the code.

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