The Tourism Phenomenon
Tourism is a world-wide phenomenon affecting human society and the environment. While tourists and people working in the tourism industry may benefit, people in tourist receiving areas experience a threat to their self-determination and dignity. Against the dynamics of globalisation the vital rights of local communities have been threatened.

The Need for Change Towards Sustainable Development
Recognizing the urgency to raise awareness about the complex nature of tourism, its ambivalent role in the strive towards sustainable development and especially about its inherent dangers, representatives of groups, initiatives and organisations from around the world met in Stuttgart, July 6th to 9th, 1998, to discuss ways for constructively shaping tourism development. This has been done in the conviction that change in tourism is necessary and possible, however, requiring a positive self-commitment of all stakeholders involved.

NGO Input in WTO Process
Guided by the WTO decision makers in the public and private sector are in the process of elaborating a ‹Global Code of Ethics for Tourism›. From this code ethical norms can be evolved, representing the autonomy and sovereignty of pluralism that exists in the world, we suggest that the following be considered a useful foundation from which ethical standards for tourism can be defined:

A Challenge for All Actors Involved
The development of tourism and its related impacts present a challenge to all actors involved – tourists, receiving communities, employees, employers, managers, investors, journalists and politicians etc. – to assume responsibility and to act accordingly.

Global Ethics
All cultures and societies are committed to specific ethical values within which common areas of concern have been accepted. These values draw upon secular traditions and regulations which guide the interaction of individuals, communities and societies as well as to the different beliefs of the religions of the world. Representations of these ethics can be found, for example, in various UN conventions and declarations, e.g. the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly, the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Rio Declaration on the Environment and Development and the recommendations of Agenda 21. They have also been expressed as fundamental principles by the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
These principles embody the inviolable dignity of every human being as the very first fundamental ethical principle, which means that every person has a responsibility to treat all people everywhere and at all times in a humane way. These principles imply broad guidelines for human behaviour, such as the commitment to a culture of:

  • non-violence and respect for all life;
  • solidarity and a just economic order;
  • sustainability of consumption with respect for fragile environments and scarce resources
  • tolerance and a life of truthfulness;
  • equal rights and partnership between men and women,
  • protection of the rights of children

Ethics in Tourism
In the same way as ethical principals apply to all individuals, communities and societies, they also apply to all actors in tourism in their respective specific roles. This entails both rights and responsibilities. Concrete and specific ethical standards for behaviour and practises in tourism must follow these broad principles as outlined above.

This means for example:

  • democracy and peace in the management and resolving of conflicts connected with tourism, which includes the openness and preparedness for a reciprocal understanding and the observance of the general principle of justice;
  • solidarity with those who are directly and strongly affected by tourism and who suffer from unjust structures connected with tourism, and solidarity with those who need material or political and philosophical support in defending their interests and rights which are threatened by tourism development or which are ignored in decision making processes;
  • justice in a world tourism order, an aim which intends to change all structures of injustice that exists in the fields of economics, politics, social and cultural life;
  • respect of diversity in the various areas of life – societies, environment, cultures, religions and politics – which calls for sensitivity to difference and the practice of tolerance.
  • authentic information for all people involved or interested in tourism. Such authentic information is a basic need for a just world tourism order. This places a particular responsibility on the media to be objective, fair and truthful when reporting on tourism. Professionals engaged in tourism education should also promote need for authentic research and information to develop sensitised and aware personnel in tourism.
  • equal rights for all, women and men, children and old people, at home and abroad.


In order to improve the present situation in tourism and to minimize its negative impacts, we urge all actors involved to contribute the best of their knowledge, abilities, and skills towards a tourism that is in line with these ethical principles.
We appeal to the international community and all actors involved in tourism, such as governments, other public authorities, decision makers and professionals in the field of tourism, public and private associations and institutions whose activities are related to tourism, tourists and local communities to adopt the following principles and work towards the following objectives:


  • the recognition and protection of political diversity;
  • the control of tourism development in line with sustainability criteria – for the sake of the world of today, its present inhabitants and future generations;
  • to adopt the principle of subsidiarity presupposing decentralisation, so that preference is given to local participants in decision-making rather than global, supranational and centralised institutions. They should be brought in only when problems cannot be resolved by local actors themselves.
  • the participation of all persons involved, an aim which presupposes the freedom to participate and the duty to use this freedom responsibly;
  • the empowerment of local communities who are affected by, involved in, engaged in and concerned with tourism development;
  • protection of decision making structures of minorities and marginalized people/groups and the right to fight for their rights;
  • the principle of good governance.


  • the recognition and protection of economic diversity;
  • the observance of labour rights;
  • the fair sharing of profits and redistribution of income
  • the restriction of non-resident ownership;
  • the responsibility connected with ownership;
  • the protection of local economies against displacement and disruption;
  • the training for local entrepreneurship and support of local investment;
  • the protection of the informal sector and its values;
  • the protection of attractions against free consumption.


  • the recognition and protection of ecological diversity;
  • protection of natural resources
  • the provision just access to natural resources
  • the implementation of special programmes to save endangered species


  • the recognition and protection of social diversity;
  • the principle of self-reliance;
  • gender equality;
  • the right of children to childhood;
  • the stabilisation of communities;
  • the protection from exploitation or dependence;
  • education and information skills;
  • the participation in the setting up of master plans;
  • the principle of accountability;
  • the local/public definition of infrastructure standards;
  • the integration of the local elite, investors and tourism
  • the abolition of child prostitution
  • local access to and sharing of all facilities between tourists and hosts


  • the recognition and protection of cultural diversity/multi-culturalism
  • tradition vs. modernisation
  • the protection of local culture as opposed to tourist culture
  • the protection of basic values
  • the avoidance of zoo syndromes

This draft was completed by tourism-related NGOs and research institutes from the following countries:

Republic of South Africa