UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism: from international convention to binding international law?

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Participants at the UNWTO in Spain

The 17th meeting of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics (WCET), held at the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) headquarters in Madrid, Spain on 26-27 April 2016 discussed the advances in the process of conversion of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET) into an international convention and reiterated the importance of transforming the Code into legally binding international law.    The WCTE is the independent body responsible for overseeing the implementation of the GCET), and is a subsidiary organ of the UNWTO General Assembly.    The process of transformation is led by a group of UNWTO Member States which is currently drafting the text of the convention to be presented to the 22nd UNWTO General Assembly to be held in China in 2017.

Stressing the relevance of adopting a convention on Tourism Ethics, Pascal Lamy, Chair of the Ethics Committee and former Director General of the World Trade Organization, said “Transforming the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics into an international convention represents a major step forward in ensuring that tourism development is a force for good in our societies and UNWTO Members States are committed to this objective.

Over the course of the two-day meeting, the Committee debated how to increase the awareness of the GCET and its core values such as accessibility for all, child protection and the obligations of tourism service providers in the field of safety and security standards in tourist accommodation and beach water sports.   As the organ responsible for promoting and monitoring the implementation of the GCET, the Committee commended the growing number of companies and trade associations that have adhered to the Private Sector Commitment to the Code. By April 2016, a total of 452 signatories from 64 countries had committed to promote and implement the Code in their business operations, including just one from New Zealand: The Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ).


UNWTO Ethics and Social Responsibility Programme

World Committee on Tourism Ethics

UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism

UNWTO Private Sector Commitment to the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism

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