Supplier assessment

Assessing suppliers’ and business partners’ business conduct is especially recommended when salient human rights risks linked to suppliers’ and business partners’ operations are identified (see value chain risk analysis on this website)

Supplier assessment can take various forms, from self-declarations, to on-site checks by the tour operator, to independent third-party audits and certifications. As part of their sustainable supply chain management, tour operators can use a range of tools, depending on the objectives:

  • self-declaration for general high-level monitoring of their Supplier Code of Conduct (see measure card on Policy and process);
  • second-party checks to start a dialogue with their most important business partners about human rights and potential negative impacts, and
  • third-party audits conducted by independent external auditors to check the implementation of a tour operator’s Supplier Code of Conduct (see measures card on Policy and process) or a specific external (certification) standard.

It is also important that employees who do site inspections participate in FamTrips (“familiarization trips” for travel agents that are provided by suppliers or travel operators to get to know a potential new offer or location) or do the contracting have a generic understanding of human rights impacts and have been trained and sensitized on human rights (see measure card on Training and capacity building). 

In the tabs below, you will find more information on how to implement various forms of supplier assessments.

⇒ Click here to identify your value chain-related human rights risks

Second-party audits
Third-party audits

Supplier self-assessments can be used by tour operators as a tool to monitor the implementation of their Supplier Code of Conduct (see measures card on Policy and process). Service providers are asked (e.g. annually) to fill in a questionnaire about the clauses in the Supplier Code of Conduct and give a self-declaration on their commitment to human rights.

Extra push to provide such information is needed with service providers where potential human rights impacts occur (see value chain risk assessment on this website).


  • Travel Unity: Self-Assessment Questions concerning diversity & inclusion 
  • Delta Air Lines steps up diversity initiatives to diversify the supply chain, to include participation from minority-owned businesses and to hold suppliers accountable for anti-racism policies.


Self-assessments are also a useful tool for a tour operator to collect qualitative information on the implementation of the Supplier Code of Conduct and potentially identify issues to be addressed through training & capacity building (see measure card on Training and capacity building).

Second-party audits

Second-party audits are conducted by tour operators at their suppliers’ premises. The aim of such on-site checks is to assess the implementation of the Supplier Code of Conduct (see measure card on Policy and process).

Such visits give operators the opportunity to start dialogues with their service providers on human rights-related topics and their expectations towards them. Instead of solely “checking” up on them, a tour operator can engage and find out about challenges related to the implementation of the Supplier Code of Conduct.


It is useful to integrate human rights aspects into other audit schemes as well, such as health and safety checks.

Third-party audits

There are two main types of independent third-party audits:

  1. External third-party audits commissioned by a tour operator to check up on the implementation of the company’s Supplier Code of Conduct (see measure card on Policy and process). This is done to verify information provided through the supplier’s self-declaration (see tab on self-assessment), or after specific allegations are made against a service provider (e.g. through media reports, NGO studies etc.) or based on grievances raised (see measure card on Grievance mechanism).
  2. Third-party audits to certify (label) and promote service providers with responsible business practices. Organisations that perform external certification provide labels which can be used by tour operators for their sales and marketing activities (e.g. in brochures and websites) and allow them to label a service or a product as “responsible”. As there are plenty of sustainability labels with different levels of credibility on the market, tour operators are advised to work with certification systems recognised or accredited by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).


  • Following publication of a report in 2017 by a human rights NGO on alleged poor working conditions for migrant staff in the hotel industry in Thailand, TUI strengthened risk assessments of their local hotel partners. In April 2018 TUI co-organised Travelife seminars in Thailand to discuss modern slavery and influence more hotels to achieve sustainability certifications. The Institute of Human Rights and Business (IHRB) also participated, holding a session on responsible recruitment to help prevent forced labour and trafficking. Over 150 participants attended these sessions. In 2019 TUI continued to engage our hotel partners in Thailand to increase the number of hotels that are audited by a certification body and to strengthen their safeguarding processes.
  • A TUI third-party hotel in Thailand was audited by Travelife and found to be discriminating against migrant workers. Key issues included sub-standard staff accommodation compared to staff accommodation for Thai and other foreign employees and different contracts and terms & conditions. The hotel was marked as non-compliant for these criteria. Travelife worked with the hotel to change their processes and provide evidence that they were complying with their standard in the key areas of concern. Once this process was complete, a senior auditor went to the property to verify that the steps the hotel promised to take were in fact implemented. As a result, the certification body was satisfied that the issues were addressed and that they received enough compliance evidence to certify the property. The partnership between TUI and Travelife helped turn this situation around for workers at the hotel, with both organisations being able to use their influence to affect changes in hotel operations.

(example taken from TUI Modern Slavery Statement 2019)


Learn more

Find more information in the Resource Centre.