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Principles of the Euskadi Tourism Code of Ethics

The Euskadi Tourism Code of Ethics is comprised of 8 principles:

  • The understanding and promotion of the ethical values common to humanity, with an attitude of tolerance and respect for the diversity of religious, philosophical and moral beliefs, are both the foundation and the consequence of responsible tourism. Stakeholders in tourism development and tourists themselves should observe the social and cultural traditions and practices of all peoples, including those of minorities and indigenous peoples and recognize their worth.
  • Tourism activities should be conducted in harmony with the attributes and traditions of the host regions and countries and in respect for their laws, practices and customs.
  • The host communities, on the one hand, and local professionals, on the other, should acquaint themselves with and respect the tourists who visit them and find out about their lifestyles, tastes and expectations. The education and training imparted to professionals contribute to a hospitable welcome.
  • It is the task of the Department of Tourism, Commerce and Consumption to provide protection for tourists and visitors and their belongings. It must pay particular attention to the safety of foreign tourists owing to the particular vulnerability they may have. It should facilitate the introduction of specific means of information, prevention, security, insurance and assistance consistent with their needs.
  • Any attacks, assaults, kidnappings or threats against tourists or workers in the tourism industry, as well as the wilful destruction of tourism facilities or of elements of cultural or natural heritage should be severely condemned and punished in accordance with their respective national laws.
  • When travelling, tourists and visitors should not commit any act considered criminal by the laws of the country visited and abstain from any conduct felt to be offensive or injurious by the local populations, or likely to damage the local environment. They should refrain from all trafficking in illicit drugs, arms, antiques, protected species and products and substances that are dangerous or prohibited by national regulations.
  • Tourists and visitors have the responsibility to acquaint themselves, even before their departure, with the characteristics of the country they are preparing to visit. They must also be aware of the health and security risks inherent in any travel outside their usual environment and behave in such a way as to minimize those risks.
  • Tourism, the activity most frequently associated with rest and relaxation, sport and access to culture and nature, should be planned and practised as a privileged means of individual and collective fulfilment. When practised with a sufficiently open mind, it is an irreplaceable factor of self-education, mutual tolerance and for learning about the legitimate differences between peoples and cultures and their diversity.
  • Tourism activities should respect the equality of men and women. They should promote human rights and, more particularly, the individual rights of the most vulnerable groups, notably children, the elderly, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples.
  • The exploitation of human beings in any form, particularly sexual, especially when applied to children, conflicts with the fundamental aims of tourism and is the negation of tourism. As such, in accordance with international law, it should be energetically combatted with the cooperation of all the States concerned and penalized without concession by the national legislation of both the countries visited and the countries of the perpetrators of these acts, even when they are carried out abroad.
  • Travel for purposes of religion, health, education and cultural or linguistic exchanges are particularly beneficial forms of tourism, which deserve encouragement.
  • The introduction into curricula of education about the value of tourist exchanges and their economic benefits should be encouraged.
  • All the stakeholders in tourism development should safeguard the natural environment and natural resources with a view to achieving sound, continuous and sustainable economic growth geared to satisfying equitably the needs and aspirations of present and future generations.
  • All forms of tourism development that are conducive to saving rare and precious resources, in particular water and energy, as well as avoiding so far as possible waste production, should be given priority and encouraged by the Department of Tourism, Commerce and Consumption, via Basquetour, as well as all other stakeholders in tourism development.
  • The staggering in time and space of tourist and visitor flows, particularly those resulting from paid leave and school holidays, and a more even distribution of holidays should be sought so as to reduce the pressure of tourism activity on the environment and enhance its beneficial impact on the tourism industry and the local economy.
  • Tourism infrastructure should be designed and tourism activities programmed in such a way as to protect the natural heritage composed of ecosystems and biodiversity and to preserve endangered species of wildlife. The stakeholders in tourism development, and especially professionals, should agree to the imposition of limitations or constraints on their activities when these are exercised in particularly sensitive areas: High mountain regions, coastal areas, wetlands and nature reserves or protected areas.
  • Nature tourism and ecotourism are recognized as being particularly conducive to enriching and enhancing the standing of tourism, provided they respect the natural heritage and local populations and are in keeping with the carrying capacity of the sites.
  • Tourism operators should undertake to promote local products and services, to contribute to preservation and sustainable development of the environment as well as high-quality job creation. Hire local guides that are knowledgeable about EUSKADI’S tourism resources.
  • Local populations and communities should be associated with tourism activities and share equitably in the economic, social and cultural benefits they generate, and particularly in the creation of direct and indirect jobs resulting from them.
  • Tourism policies should be applied in such a way as to help to raise the standard of living of the populations of the regions visited and meet their needs. The planning and architectural approach to and operation of tourism resorts and accommodation should aim to integrate them, to the extent possible, in the local economic and social fabric. Where skills are equal, priority should be given to local manpower.
  • Special attention should be paid to the specific problems of coastal areas and to vulnerable rural or mountain regions, for which tourism often represents a rare opportunity for development in the face of the decline of traditional economic activities.
  • Pursuant to the applicable regulations, environmental and natural resource impact studies shall be carried out for development projects. They should also provide all the information regarding their future programmes and potential consequences with the maximum transparency and appropriate objectivity and promote dialogue about their content with the interested parties.
  • Tourism resources belong to the common heritage of humanity. The communities in whose territories they are situated have particular rights and obligations to them.
  • Tourism policies and activities should be conducted with respect for the artistic, archaeological and cultural heritage, which they should protect and pass on to future generations. Particular care should be devoted to preserving and upgrading monuments, shrines and museums as well as archaeological and historic sites which must be widely open to tourist visits. Encouragement should be given to public access to privately-owned cultural property and monuments, with respect for the rights of their owners, as well as to religious buildings, without prejudice to normal needs of worship.
  • Financial resources derived from visits to cultural sites and monuments should, at least in part, be used for the upkeep, safeguard, development and embellishment of this heritage.
  • Tourism activity should be planned in such a way as to allow traditional cultural products, crafts and folklore to survive and flourish, rather than causing them to degenerate and become standardized.
  • The Department of Tourism, Commerce and Consumption of the Basque Government will provide Basque tourism operators with the tools for an excellent and competitive sector with plans, programmes and projects that improve quality, sustainability, innovation and accessibility, among other things.
  • The 2030 Strategic Plan for Basque Tourism establishes a VISION of Basque tourism’s future: sustainably grow to strengthen into a specialised destination of excellence, a point of reference in Europe. Pursuant to the provisions of point 4 “Drive Sustainable Tourism Practices”, EUSKADI should make efforts to boost social and environmental responsibility to ensure that tourism growth is compatible with preserving quality of life for residents and the capacity to continue generating wealth. In turn, according to point 5 of said Plan, “the industry’s training conditions and competitiveness must be fostered”. The prosperity of the Basque tourism industry requires good conditions for companies, adequate human capital, excellent infrastructure, as well as positive conditions for demand and simplicity from authorities.
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    • The universal right to tourism must be regarded as the corollary of the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, guaranteed by Article 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 7.d of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
    • Family, youth, student and senior tourism and tourism for people with disabilities, should be encouraged and facilitated.
    • The livelihoods of merchants and artisans should be respected and they should be paid a fair price for products and services.
    • The fundamental rights of salaried and self-employed workers in the tourism industry and related activities, should be guaranteed given the specific constraints linked in particular to the seasonality of their activity, the global dimension of their industry and the flexibility often required of them by the nature of their work.
    • Salaried and self-employed workers in the tourism industry and related activities have the right and the duty to acquire appropriate initial and continuous training. They should be given adequate social protection; job insecurity should be limited so far as possible, driving and fostering all the conditions of collective bargaining agreements.
    • Any natural or legal person, provided he, she or it has the necessary abilities and skills, should be entitled to develop a professional activity in the field of tourism under existing national laws. Entrepreneurs and investors – especially in the area of small and medium-sized enterprises – should be entitled to free access to the tourism sector with a minimum of legal or administrative restrictions.
    • Exchanges of experience offered to executives and workers, whether salaried or not, from different countries, contributes to foster the development of the world tourism industry. These movements should be facilitated so far as possible in compliance with the applicable national laws and international conventions.
    • As an irreplaceable factor of solidarity in the development and dynamic growth of international exchanges, multinational enterprises of the tourism industry should not exploit the dominant positions they sometimes occupy. They should avoid becoming the vehicles of cultural and social models artificially imposed on the host communities. In exchange for their freedom to invest and trade which should be fully recognized, they should involve themselves in local development, avoiding, by the excessive repatriation of their profits or their induced imports, a reduction of their contribution to the economies in which they are established. Partnership and the establishment of balanced relations between enterprises of generating and receiving countries contribute to the sustainable development of tourism and an equitable distribution of the benefits of its growth.


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