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Tourism & Human Rights

Image of Destination GuideTourism and Human Rights

Hopefully, by the end of 2021, the global covid-19 pandemic will finally be under control and travelers will be able to resume travel.

Human rights are one of the greatest achievements of modern times. They are there to protect human dignity against the arbitrariness of the state and companies; they apply to everyone from birth regardless of their origin. Human rights are often ignored by countries such as Mainland China including Hong Kong, Myanmar, Philippines & Thailand and alternative destinations should be chosen such as Indonesia, Japan, South Korea or Taiwan.

Human rights include the right to move freely within your country, to settle and to return from another country. Protection against discrimination based on ethnicity, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, state of health, political freedom and more is also part of the universal human rights.

However, fair and just wages and working conditions as well as the protection of motherhood and family are also documented here, as is the right to water, a healthy environment and self-determined development.

What to do?

Governments are primarily responsible for granting and respecting human rights. However, companies and every single person must also respect human rights and take responsibility if their actions have violated human rights. When tour operators offer destinations in countries with human rights violations they have to be particularly careful not to complicit and to violate human rights because the government in question does not protect the country’s citizens enough.

This duty of care was defined by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011.

As a traveler, help protect the human rights of the locals in the host country:

  • Are you interested in the human rights in travel and tourism?
  • Choose tour operators and hotels that are committed to human rights and dare to ask critical questions: Who lived on the land before the hotel is now? Do the fishermen still have access to the sea? How does the hotel prevent children from being abused in the rooms?
  • Protect human rights while traveling by respecting the dignity of local people in the hotel and on the go, exploiting no one, or shaming them by inappropriately gawking and refrain from visiting orphanages and schools in certain countries.
  • Report any human rights violations that you perceive in connection with the hotel or other tourist facilities, but do not interfere in the interests of the country.

Your Travel Agent

  • Is committed to respecting human rights – civil rights, social and economic rights, the core labor standards of international work organization, the rights of indigenous people and, in particular, children’s rights – and has a policy on this
  • Takes its human rights corporate responsibility very carefully where countries do not fulfill their duty to protect or even violate human rights
  • Has signed the Child Protection Code, the industry code for protecting children and adolescents from commercial sexual exploitation in tourism, and is giving you an information flyer on request
  • Assesses its impact on human rights along the entire value chain, reports transparently on the findings and the steps that are taken to improve the human rights impact of the company
  • Has a sustainability code for its suppliers (hotels and other service providers) who, with their signature, must guarantee that they respect the human rights of employees and other stakeholders and it’s supports and partners in their compliance and reviews them regularly
  • Trains its employees in the parent company and in the destinations on human rights and the company’s responsibility for compliance
  • Tells you where to report observed or suffered human rights violations, and can tell you exactly how to deal with such reports and complaints
  • Provides you with information on request on the human rights situation in the destination.

Your local Tourism Provider

  • Is committed to respecting human rights and has a policy on this. He has also signed a sustainability code for suppliers, with which he also commits to the tour operator to respect human rights
  • Has signed the Child Protection Code, the industry code to protect children and young people from commercial sexual exploitation in tourism
  • Has a strategy for the continuous improvement of the company’s human rights impact and reports regularly on the progress made. This aims at decent working conditions for the employees of the own company and the suppliers, but also to the full respect of the human rights of the local population and the travelers
  • Trains its employees on human rights and the company’s responsibility to respect them
  • Tells you where to report observed or suffered human rights violations and can explain exactly what to do with such reports and complaints.

Travel Responsible

  • Book holidays where you can be sure that your hotel or the tour operator does not violate human rights.
  • Find out about human rights situation in your holiday destination and think about how your trip will affect the human rights situation in the country.
  • Do not support countries with a low records of human rights or press freedom.
  • Dare to ask a lot of questions. For example, depending on who lived on the site before the hotel or resort is today, and where these people now live.
  • Do not interfere in the interests of the country, but report if human rights violations occur in connection with the hotel or other tourist facilities or report it to the local Human Rights institutions in your home country.
  • Respect human rights yourself, especially by not exploiting children, discriminating against ethnic minorities or contributing to human trafficking as a customer
  • Handle the country’s natural and cultural resources with care be it a coral reef, a local temple or a historical building
  • Pay attention to the dignity of the local people by taking trips to villages or slum tours only if they were organized by or with the visitors themselves
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