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directly and indirectly, influence and support enterprises and tourists in making their operations and activities more sustainable.

5.4 Voluntary instruments

5.4.1 Guidelines and codes of conduct

The development of guidelines and codes of conduct provides a mechanism for setting out clear expectations or requirements of tourists, enterprises or other stakeholders, without the back up of laws and regulations . In many circumstances, it may be felt that such non-statutory statements are sufficient to bring about the required approaches, standards or changes in behaviour.

Governments may draw up codes and guidelines themselves or may help other stakeholder groups to do so, acting as a broker in this process.

Box 5.12: Examples of financial assistance for sustainability measures

Morocco: UNEP has worked with the state electricity organization to promote the purchase of solar water heating equipment by hotels, by offering subsidized low interest loans from banks. Monthly repayments are collected as supplements to the regular payment of electricity bills, thus reducing the chances of default and therefore reducing the risk to banks, enabling them to offer lower interest rates. This should strengthen the process of commercial lending in the solar energy sector, so enabling the subsidy to be phased out.

Catalonia, Spain: grants are given to enterprises to meet external costs (such as employment of consultants) of implementing the eco-certification scheme. Some municipalities give enterprises in the scheme a 90 per cent reduction on the normal community charge for waste collection, in order to encourage them to stay in the scheme. Rimini, Italy: following a successful demonstration project on how to run a beach bathing station sustainably, the Province of Rimini has offered grant assistance to other bathing stations on a competition basis and it is anticipated that 100 will take this up. Assistance includes a special grant for installation of photovoltaic cells. United Kingdom: the government offers interest-free energy loans and 100 per cent capital tax allowances on energy efficient equipment through the ‘Carbon Trust’ (which receives funding through environmental taxes such as the Climate Change Levy). This assistance is packaged for hotels, together with a comprehensive advice programme, within the government backed ‘Hospitable Climates’ initiative. Barbados: The Tourism Development Act (2002) makes specific provision for expenditure on acquiring eco-certification and on community tourism programmes



The purpose and advantages of codes and guidelines

Codes and guidelines are written statements that set out clearly the actions that are or are not appropriate or acceptable in particular circumstances. Codes and guidelines can be used to:

• Exercise control, encouraging everyone to abide by a common approach.

• Give helpful guidance and improve performance, providing a checklist of actions to follow to achieve objectives. However, they are different from training manuals, which tend to be more elaborate (see Section 5.5.2).

They may be reproduced or disseminated in the form of short documents, presented on websites, displayed on notices and promoted through relevant media. Awareness of codes and encouragement to use them may be best achieved by word of mouth and direct distribution to intended users.

The term ‘code’ is usually applied to short lists of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’, often written as a clear statement which stakeholders can sign up to more or less formally. A ‘guideline’ is more likely to be a longer and more detailed statement, containing more advice and information on how to take appropriate action. Codes and guidelines can be complementary, with the latter providing detail on how to comply with the former. Codes can refer to initiatives of more formal frameworks, such as the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, approved by the General Assembly of WTO and of the United Nations4.

The advantages of codes and guidelines are that they are direct, simple and may be developed and used at little cost. The disadvantage is that they rely on voluntary action and there may be no in-built process of checking or enforcement.

It may be more appropriate to use codes and guidelines rather than regulations where: • Regulations are difficult to disseminate and compliance cannot be controlled. • The consequences of certain actions may be less serious.

• It is important or helpful to communicate positive actions to pursue, as well as negative actions to control.

• There are stakeholder groups with whom guidelines and codes can be developed and who promote compliance.

There are many examples of codes and guidelines relating to tourism sustainability, international, national, local and at site level. They may be aimed at policy makers, tourism enterprises, and visitors, or a combination of them and may be produced by international agencies, governments, management bodies such as national park authorities, and NGOs.

Codes and guidelines may also be produced by associations of enterprises or other stakeholders, as a way of promoting good practice within a group, seeking common standards and demonstrating this to others. In this way, they form a very useful tool for self-regulation within the tourism sector.


Instruments Ways of strengthening the success of codes and guidelines include:

• Drawing them up in close consultation with intended users. • Keeping the wording simple and the meaning clear. • Using positive language, and suggesting alternative actions. • Backing up statements by simple explanation.

• Obtaining feedback, reviewing the statements and improving them over time. • Linking them to marketing and information services (see Section 5.5.3).

Codes may be more or less formal, depending on circumstances. In some cases it may be appropriate for them to be backed up by an agreement of adherence. They can be used as the basis for other instruments, such as reporting and certification (see below) which will make them more effective.

In some circumstances, codes and regulations may be used together. Codes may cover a wider set of desired actions, but with the most important requirements being backed by legislation and regulations, which are then referred to in the codes and guidelines. Codes relating to certain activities can be strengthened if they are supported and promoted by a range of organizations working together and applied in different countries through international cooperation. An important example is the code relating to combating child sex tourism (see Box 5.13).

The following subsections extend discussion of codes and guidelines and look at ways in which they can be applied.

Policy guidelines

It is important that all stakeholders are aware of policies that relate to the sustainability of tourism, and the implications of those policies for action. The

Box 5.13: A clear code with international backing The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism is an example of a short and clearly worded code that was developed by an NGO and now has international backing from UNICEF, the WTO and a range of tourism industry organizations. The code is also supported and promoted by government bodies, such as the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Associated actions have been developed around the code, including training and publicity.

The Code, aimed at suppliers of tourism services, has just six elements:

1. To establish an ethical policy regarding the commercial exploitation of children. 2. To train the personnel in the country of origin and travel destinations.

3. To introduce a clause in contracts with suppliers, stating a common repudiation of commercial sexual exploitation of children.

4. To provide information to travellers by means of catalogues, brochures, in-flight films, ticket-slips, home pages, etc.

5. To provide information to local ‘key persons’ at the destinations. 6. To report annually.



development of multi-stakeholder structures and the process of formulating a tourism strategy through widespread consultation may go some way to ensure this. However, this may not be enough.

Guidelines can be used to transmit general directions and key aspects of policy to government agencies, local authorities, NGOs, private sector enterprises and supporting bodies such as development assistance agencies and banks.

A single guideline document could be prepared which is generally applicable to all, or a range of different documents could be produced, with the style and contents adjusted to meet the requirements of the audience.

Codes and guidelines on development and management processes

Codes and guidelines relating to tourism enterprises may cover the country as a whole or be specific to particular types of location (including protected areas) or types of product.

Codes and guidelines may be used to influence the nature of product development. They can cover both procedures and processes to adopt and the nature of

development. Examples include guidelines on:

• Planning and development control procedures: in protected areas, these might be based on the CBD guidelines for sustainable tourism.

• The development of community-based tourism: a number of international guidelines exist on working with communities on assessing prospects and establishing projects that embrace sustainability principles.

• Design for different types of development.

Codes and guidelines can also relate to how tourism enterprises are managed in different situations in order to benefit environments and communities (see Box 5.14). These may be prepared by, or for, tour operators or tourism service providers. Typically, they will cover aspects such as:

• Procedures for minimizing pollution from operations or environmental damage from recreational activities.

The Responsible Tourism Guidelines produced in South Africa provide a particularly good example of a guidelines document. Produced in booklet format and circulated widely, they set out statements of principle relating to economic, social and environmental sustainability, around which more detailed policies and actions should be developed. They have subsequently been reflected in the policies of a number of provincial authorities and have been taken up by at least one of the main banks where they have been used as the basis for criteria for funding. The guidelines have also been used to prepare an advisory manual for private enterprises (see Case Studies, p 162).

Box 5.14: Code for operating in a sensitive location

For many years the WWF Arctic Programme has maintained a Code of Conduct for Tour Operators in the Arctic. This has covered, amongst other things, the way in which operators use and manage natural resources; choice of accommodation and other suppliers; visitor management and information given to visitors; ways of respecting local cultures; qualification and education of staff; and safety procedures. The Code has been translated into several languages and distributed widely. It has proved popular. Operators following it have subsequently looked for greater recognition of their good practice, and options for linking this to certification are being considered.


Instruments • Good practice in liaising with local communities.

• Handling and controlling visitors, including group size, the nature of information supplied to them, etc.

• Reporting procedures, covering the enterprises’ activities and providing feedback to help destination management.

Visitor codes of conduct

Many codes have been produced with the objective of influencing visitor behaviour. Most of these relate to the use of natural environments for different activities. However, they can also cover wider issues such as purchasing local produce,

selecting equitable service providers, tipping practices, dress codes to respect cultural sensitivities, etc.

Codes may range from overall tips for responsible travel, to specific codes focused on particular activities, such as do’s and don’ts for mountain bikers in a national park or even on an individual trail.

In general, visitor codes will be more effective if backed up by promotional activity (such as media coverage) and also used as the basis around which more personal advice and information are given (see Section 5.5.3). The Leave No Trace programme in the USA (described in Box 5.28) is an example of an educational programme that promotes its own simple visitor code.