Responsible Tourism and its Socio-Economic Impact on Local Communities

Responsible Tourism and its Socio-Economic Impact on Local Communities

Ensuring that the social and economic benefits of tourism reach local communities was at the heart of the first ‘UNWTO Seminar on Tourism Ethics for Asia and the Pacific: Responsible Tourism and its Socio-Economic Impact on Local Communities’.

The Seminar took place in parallel with the 10th meeting of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics (12-13 June in Bali, Indonesia).

Tourism has proven one of the most effective means to drive job creation and economic development in local communities, the sector contributes to not only wealth creation, but also increases access to essential services such as water, sanitation, telecommunications and transport. When not properly managed however, the positive benefits of tourism run the risk of bypassing local residents.

The first UNWTO Seminar on Tourism Ethics for Asia and the Pacific highlighted some of the leading regional examples of tourism development which is respectful and inclusive of local communities. Best practices from Australia to Vanuatu were presented, alongside debates on some of the most pressing issues in tourism ethics and responsible tourism. The Spirit of Bali Statement adopted by the over 150 participants summarizes the main conclusions of the debate and pledges all stakeholders to work together to achieve the proposed recommendations.

The Seminar took place within the framework of the 10th meeting of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics – responsible for promoting and monitoring the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. In Bali, the Committee analyzed a wide array of ethical issues, many for the first time, including the impact of recent events in the Middle East and North Africa on tourism in these countries as well as in neighbouring destinations, the relationship between human rights and tourism, the voice of civil society in tourism planning and management processes, the economic empowerment of women through tourism, and accessible tourism for all, in particular for persons with disabilities.

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In light of last year’s travel disruptions caused by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud and the recent eruption of the Chilean volcano, the committee placed special attention on the issue of tourist/consumer protection. Given the current lack of information and assistance afforded to stranded travellers in crisis situations, the committee decided to support and assist UNWTO in the preparation of an international legal instrument in this area.