Protecting tourists

By | Category: Travel news

There is a new code that has been set up to help tourists, travellers and holidaymakers as the visit the world.

an airport queue at Gatwick
Will queues to get out of destinations before lockdowns be a thing of the past with this new code?

This body established under the aegis of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is called the International Code for the Protection of Tourists.

So far ninety-two member states say that they will make support available to tourists affected by emergency situations.

UNWTO says that within a few weeks, “international organizations, the European Commission as well as private stakeholders will be called upon to join this unprecedented initiative to achieve a … fair and balanced share of responsibilities among all tourism stakeholders in the post COVID-19 world.”

What does that mean in plain English?

It means establishing a standard set of minimum consumer protection standards for tourists to help make people feel safer and more confident in international travel. Its recommendations include;

  • 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.

This initiative was prompted by the reactions of different countries to COVID-19 in closing borders, halting flights and access to the home countries of travellers and generally make life a great deal more difficult than it should be.

Many of us will have made countless telephone calls, queued at airports and generally made nuisances of ourselves in an attempt to get a seat on a flight home.

As UNWTO says, “the COVID-19 crisis left millions of tourists stranded abroad for periods which in some instances surpassed a month. This situation, combined with the confusion surrounding the attribution of responsibilities to assist tourists in situations of force majeure, left international tourists in a situation of neglect, aggravated by their vulnerability.”

It all sounds laudable and if it can really prevent disruption, then the code will be of value in restoring confidence in international travel.

But will it be yet another talking shop?  Will the countries who sign up give it lip service or truly support it?

 Time will only tell.

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