More than 100 countries, alongside international organizations and leading business groups have agreed to adopt harmonized standards for assisting tourists caught up in emergency situations. The Committee for the Development of an International Code for the Protection of Tourists has agreed on the text of the first two Chapters of the Code, containing seven key principles for a landmark legal code aimed at restoring confidence in international travel in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The importance of harmonization of protocols, balance, coordination, cooperation and accessibility, are among the seven core principles agreed by the Committee tasked with advancing the “Assistance to International Tourists in Emergency Situations” code. Published by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), it will provide guidance to countries worldwide on how to help tourists affected by emergencies, including but not limited to health emergencies.
The Committee also agreed on a set of recommendations relating to providing tourists affected by emergency situations with information, assistance and, if necessary, repatriation. It is expected that this ongoing consultation process will produce an internationally-recognized Code for the Protection of Tourists before the end of the year.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “We can only restart tourism if we restore trust in travel. People want to feel safe and looked after when they travel. And the Code for the Protection of Tourists will provide this, based on the collaboration of the global tourism sector and governments.”
Alongside representatives of more than 100 countries, the Committee counts on the participation of the European Commission, and several of UNWTO’s sister UN agencies, including the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and international bodies including the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Private sector stakeholders include the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Forum of Travel and Tourism Advocates (IFTTA), The European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations (ECTAA), the umbrella Association for Hotels, Restaurants and Cafes in Europe HOTREC, Expedia, and Allianz Group.
The results from the deliberations of the Committee will be published on an interim basis as it advances minimum tourism consumer protection standards at the international level to provide guidance to countries for the recovery and the restart of tourism.