Ethics in the tourism sector

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bimjim
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Ethics in the tourism sector

Unread post by bimjim » Wed Aug 23, 2017

http://www.guardian.co.tt/regional/2017 ... ism-sector

Ethics in the tourism sector
Thursday, August 24, 2017

Tourism is one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the world, but little attention has been paid to the ethical marketing of the tourism product. Lohmann and Netto (2016) authors of the book Tourism Theory define ethical tourism as: “tourism in which all stakeholders involved apply principles of good behaviour (justice, fairness and equality) to their interactions with one another, with society, with the environment and other life forms.” The purpose of rules of ethics is to differentiate between good and bad human conduct and to provide the foundation for tourism providers in the Greater Caribbean.

Ethical issues can be detected within the behaviour and actions of the tourism human resource. In recent months, the world observed instances where airlines deprived air transportation to passengers as their staff overbooked flights.

This is, in fact, a grave ethical problem of which the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) states that denied boarding as a consequence of deliberate overbooking may be considered as discriminatory, in that it is based on a concept designed to meet the needs of one type of traveller while impacting another. Although the passenger incurs short-term negative effects, the airline company suffers long term negative effects.

As a result of technological advancement, these incidents now circulate all over the world in a matter of seconds, running the risk of damaging the company’s reputation and declining future sales. In order to secure repeat business, the proprietor must show the tourist that the operation concentrates on quality service, in an efficient and caring manner, with the desire to satisfy the expectations of the consumer.

Another platform in which ethical issues often emerge is in the promotion of tourism products and services. Published and online advertisement, social media, TV and brochure, are the most effective marketing tools used to promote the tourism industry and “sell” a location or product. However, the possibility may arise where misleading information and distorted media images are used for advertising.

Perhaps the greatest unethical practice within tourism is the frequent lack of congruence between promotion and product reality. In fact, anticipations that far exceed the reality of the traveller experience, results in disappointment and it is the tourist’s right to question “was the presentation of this tourist destination ethical?”

Greenwashing is an example of unethical promotion which issues misleading claims about the environmental benefits of a product, service, technology or company practice in order to appear to be more environmentally friendly than it really is, with the intention of increasing sales.

According to The Guardian (2009), a well-known airline was reprimanded for greenwashing after one of its advertisements issued misleading claims stating that its flights had a smaller carbon footprint than a hybrid car.

Tourism in the Caribbean is highly dependent upon the environment and greenwashing is counterproductive to the Association of Caribbean States’ (ACS) focal initiative towards sustainable tourism.

It should be noted that nations differ in their attitudes toward lying and deception. While in collectivistic cultures, misleading advertising is considered acceptable, in individualistic cultures misleading advertising presents a major problem.

Nevertheless we must remember that stakeholders within the tourism industry such as tour operators, tour guides, transportation, restaurants and accommodation among others influence tourist numbers and behaviour towards the destination, as well as, the desire of the tourist to return in the future.

Moreover, the ACS is conscious of the importance of probity and public ethics and for this reason the directorate of sustainable tourism of the ACS encourages its member states and associate members to implement good ethical practice in tourism through the implementation of the indicators of the Sustainable Tourism Zone of the Greater Caribbean (STZC) within the criteria that corresponds to the social and ethical dimensions.

The ACS aims to improve training and public awareness on the importance of sustainable tourism by endorsing ethical best practices within the value chain of the tourism industry which include; tour operators, tour guides, transportation, restaurants and accommodation, for instance.

In order to achieve this goal, the Directorate of Sustainable Tourism has prioritised Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as one of its thematic areas. TVET is an umbrella term referring to the process comprising general education, the acquisition of practical skills, attitudes, and knowledge related to the world of work (UNESCO, 2013).

Additionally, based on the aforementioned areas addressed by this field, the ACS developed a study entitled “Training for Careers in Sustainable Tourism” with a focus on TVET which indicates that ethics and spirit of work are some of the important competencies to be reinforced.

Regarding the aforementioned goal, the implementation of actions that lead to adequate attention and the necessary support to contribute to the productivity, professionalisation and growth of stakeholders within the tourism sector are imperative.

The tourism sector has the potential to make a valuable contribution to peace and to make positive social and economic impacts as long as all stakeholders commit themselves to the principles and values of ethics in tourism as it is our roadmap towards a better future.


This article was written by the directorate of sustainable tourism of the Association of the Caribbean States.

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