Greater legal protection for tourists sought

Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - November 30, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is gaining traction in the establishment of an international code for the protection of tourists, which works in line with restoring tourists’ confidence in the travel industry.

In a statement, the UNWTO said the Committee for the Development of an International Code for the Protection of Tourists recently met for a second time, bringing the establishment of the landmark legal framework a step closer to being realized.

“UNWTO hosted the consultative virtual meeting which counted on the participation of 92 member states, as well as one associate member,” the UNWTO said.

It said that legal experts from several global regions also joined the meeting as part of a special consultative group.

The group also includes observers, composed of international organizations, 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 UNWTO said.

It also said that 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.

Representatives from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) also joined the meeting.

A number of business organizations and member groups took part as observers, among them the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Hotrec, which represents the European hospitality sector.

Earlier this month, the UNWTO announced the initiative, emphasizing that the International Code for the Protection of Tourists would make the support available to tourists affected by emergency situations clearer and more consistent globally.

This works in line with restoring confidence in the tourism sector.

“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,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said.

“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,”he said.

The UNWTO said earlier that 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 in Marrakech, Morocco, for approval by member states.

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