Increasing awareness of human rights in tourism industry

 
Panel on human rights as good business at tourism fair Vakantiebeurs in Utrecht 2017

For the first time, human rights were on the agenda of this year’s Sustainable tourism business day during the holiday fair on 11 January 2017 in Utrecht. In order to start a dialogue about human rights in tourism within the Dutch tourism industry ANVR, the Dutch travel association, organized a half-day event. Better holidays is the new program by ANVR to enhance cooperation in the tourism sector and to encourage tour operators to make tourism products more sustainable. In his opening speech President of ANVR Frank Oostdam turned out that human rights were part of responsible tourism. International experts from Germany and Switzerland representing the Roundtable Human Rights in Tourism continued to focus on the need for businesses to cooperate with each other to share learnings and good practice.

In an introductory presentation Sandra Bruinse from Plan Nederland pointed out that good business is possible by respecting human rights. Since 2011 the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights is an internationally agreed reference framework which clearly define a corporate responsibility to respect human rights and includes a concept of human rights due diligence. Specifically companies are required to develop a human rights strategy and implement it consistently within the company and its business processes.

Roundtable Human Rights in Tourism representatives drew attention to various human rights related risks and actual impacts such as labour conditions, commercial sexual exploitation of children and land acquisition. The presentations focused on experiences with strategies, practical case studies as well as experiences of cooperation between different actors that demonstrate how human rights can be respected within the tourism sector. “Respect for human rights is an active obligation for each and every tourism business but there are many things that can be done together”, highlighted Antje Monshausen from Tourism Watch. One of these opportunities of cooperation is the Roundtable Human Rights in Tourism – presented by Petra Thomas from German travel association forum anders reisen – which enables exchange through its multi-stakeholder approach. It developed practical tips on how tour operators can start to implement human rights into business culture.

According to Matthias Leisinger, Head of Corporate Responsibility (CR) at the Swiss tour operator Kuoni and one of the founding members of the Roundtable, it is essential that “human rights due diligence is only successful if it is integrated into core business”. Establishing a human rights approach is in its infancy. An ongoing process is required, according to the key message of the panellists. The event provided a forum for tour operators, travel agents and other practitioners. This topical and important issue generated considerable interest, as the strong resonance of the event showed.

 

Please find the presentations of the panellists here:

 

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