The continuous growth of the tourism sector and its current trends and challenges, including those related to safety and security and the expansion of new businesses models, require an adaptation of the global legal framework. In this regard, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has been working since 2011 on the development of an international convention to protect tourists and ensure confidence in the tourism sector, an initiative now in its final phase.
The 9th meeting of the Working Group on the International Convention on the ‘Protection of Tourists and the rights and obligations of Tourism Service Providers’ took place on 26-27 January 2017. The meeting was focused on advancing the Draft Convention by incorporating the comments of UNWTO Member States and the members of the Working Group in the framework of the Public Consultation made between August and November 2016.
The protection of tourists in emergency situations, enhancing cooperation among States and information sharing are issues of the utmost importance for the Organization, together with the overall protection of tourists as consumers. These are major areas in the Convention and will ultimately improve confidence in tourism service providers. As UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai has previously expressed, “we are at a highly relevant crossroads; tourism is increasing every year and governments and private sector need tools to build a framework to guarantee tourist protection among other trends”.
The final Working Group meeting will take place on 28-29 March 2017 at the UNWTO Headquarters in Madrid and will aim to finalize text of the Draft Convention, for its submission to the XXII UNWTO General Assembly (Chengdu, China, September 2017).
The Working Group on the International Convention on the ‘Protection of Tourists and the rights and obligations of Tourism Service Providers’ was created by the Decision of the UNWTO Executive Council in 2011. The Working Group, chaired by Mr. Zoltan Somogyi (UNWTO Executive Director for Programme and Coordination), integrates representatives of UNWTO Member States, International Organizations and the private sector.