As the body responsible for promoting and monitoring the implementation of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, the Committee applauded the significant advancements in UNWTO's engagement with the private sector, as well as the 47 companies and associations which signed the Code between September 2011 and February 2013. These include major tourism associations from Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Mexico, among others.
"With their signature, these companies have pledged to implement and promote the Code's values, both by integrating ethical practices into their business operations, and by reporting to the World Committee on Tourism Ethics on the actions they undertake", said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, in his welcome remarks to the participants.
The Chairman of the World Committee, Dawid De Villiers, called for a renewed commitment to ethical standards and values, stressing that "we live in difficult times and peoples and nations around the world are facing enormous challenges". He explained that "the tourism sector can make a valuable contribution to peace and progress if all stakeholders commit themselves to the principles and values of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. The Code is our roadmap towards a better future".
Advancing accessible tourism for all
Accessibility is a key area of UNWTO's work in sustainable tourism development. Against this backdrop, the Committee also discussed the on-going updating of the 2005 UNWTO Recommendations on "Accessible Tourism for All". The revised Recommendations will be submitted for approval to the upcoming UNWTO General Assembly next August.
Committee members also welcomed the production of a "Manual on Developing Universal Accessibility", a result of UNWTO's collaboration with the Spanish ONCE Foundation, the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) and the ACS Foundation, expected to be available later this year.
Other issues discussed by the Committee included consumer protection, travel facilitation, sustainable tourism following Rio+20, intangible cultural heritage and fair tourism.
Adopted in 1999 by the UNWTO General Assembly and endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2001, the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET) is a set of principles designed to guide the development of tourism in a way that maximizes the socio-economic benefits of the sector, while minimizing any negative impacts.
The World Committee on Tourism Ethics is the impartial body responsible for interpreting, applying and evaluating the provisions of the GCET. A subsidiary organ of the UNWTO General Assembly, the Committee reports directly to the Assembly. Members are elected in their personal capacities and not as officials of governments or representatives of their countries.