Resignation of Clare Jenkinson (ABTA) from the Board – Farewell Statement


I will shortly be taking up a new sustainability position outside of travel, and as my time as both Head of Sustainability at ABTA and as a board member for the Roundtable Human Rights in Tourism comes to an end, now seems like a good time to share some thoughts on the value of the Roundtable and my hopes for the future of the initiative.

Human rights is one of four areas for action outlined in ABTA’s framework, Tourism for Good: Rebuilding travel and tourism.

As the UK’s largest travel association, our Membership is varied and includes tour operators, travel agents, cruise lines and travel management companies. We work with our Members on issues such as labour rights and modern slavery, child safeguarding, and diversity and inclusion - with customers as well as with staff, such as our work on accessible tourism. ABTA’s Travelife for Accommodation also helps the travel industry manage sustainability in the accommodation supply chain, including human rights.

When I joined the board back in 2018, the Roundtable Human Rights in Tourism had started to consciously engage a more international audience beyond the German-speaking countries where it originated. The Roundtable’s international role is important because there isn’t another organisation fostering an international dialogue on human rights in tourism.

The Roundtable means we don’t need to reinvent the wheel individually in different markets in terms of what tackling human rights in tourism businesses mean. The framework that shapes the role tourism businesses should play on human rights is the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which applies globally, so it makes sense to collaborate internationally.

As a multi-stakeholder initiative, the Roundtable brings together NGOs, the private sector, academia and others to promote human rights in tourism. There is tremendous value in providing space for dialogue between these stakeholders. Charities can often use a different vocabulary to businesses to talk about tackling human rights, and there can be a tension between our ideals and the realities on the ground. However, fora like the Roundtable bring these voices together in a shared conversation and narrow the gap between theory and practice. The Roundtable Human Rights in Tourism has developed valuable resources and insightful webinars to do just that, and we promote and disseminate these to our Membership.

Obviously, the last couple of years have been incredibly difficult for the industry, with profound impacts both in the travel business and in destinations. But as I look to the future, my hope is that in the recovery, travel and tourism further embeds respect for human rights and that we continue to collaborate internationally to further progress. The Roundtable Human Rights in Tourism can play a pivotal role in this.