« It is evident that the sector’s engagement goes beyond symbolic CSR actions »

Tourism players going extra mile to lift virus-hit communities


Employers from across global tourism are going beyond the call of duty in supporting their workers and communities, research carried out into the sector’s response to Covid-19 has found.

The study, conducted by the World Committee on Tourism Ethics – a subsidiary of the WTO – analysed the steps taken by businesses and trade associations to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

Studying the actions taken by the private sector commitment to the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET) in 25 countries, the research revealed that, in spite of staff furloughs, employers across the sector are stepping up their support for workers and communities.

Committee chairman Pascal Lamy, who touched base with the GCET signatories to learn about the mitigation actions being championed by tourism companies and trade associations, said: “It is evident that the sector’s engagement goes beyond symbolic CSR actions. The GCET signatories, although hit terribly hard by the crisis like their colleagues across the tourism sector, have shown that they indeed care for the societies they operate in while striving to keep their businesses afloat.”

UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili welcomed the initiative of the tourism sector while at the same time calling on governments to work with private employers to safeguard jobs and livelihoods.

He said: “Governments should not abolish the resources already allocated to tourism in their budgets for 2020. Tourism administrations also need to communicate to the general public what the sector is doing for the society in these troublesome times.”

The survey found that many companies are providing 24-hour psychological help for their employees, while also maintaining medical insurance and facilitating platforms with motivational videos, medical updates and training. Many are also offering free lodging and food for stranded international staff and their families.

As well, UNWTO noted in a press release that monetary donations have been given to city councils, underprivileged families and rural communities, and food and supplies have been sent to frontline workers and vulnerable groups.

Some businesses chambers are working with public, real estate, financial and legal entities to provide SMEs with funding and identify guarantors for those unable to receive a loan. Associations have engaged in local pandemic committees to flag up the most pressing issues and better articulate their support.

In addition, hotels have donated thousands of gift nights to medical staff for their holidays and remained open for them and Covid-19 patients whenever necessary. Elsewhere, guides offered virtual tours for voluntary contributions donated to hospitals, and transportation companies offered their channels to bring critical emergency equipment to save lives.

Furthermore, volunteer platforms have also been set up to create youth loans. Virtual solidarity groups gathered hundreds of travel agents with multiple jobs to exchange goods and support their livelihoods.

Tourism players going extra mile to lift virus-hit communities