The first session of the final day was on Employment Conditions in the Tourism Industry. Wolfgang Weinz from International Labour Organisation explained that more often the people who have most interaction with guests – and therefore create the atmosphere and experience at destinations that might encourage people to come back – are the lower paid staff such as the waiters and housekeepers. “If these staff are not looked after, this will reflect on how they interact with your guests,” said Wolfgang Weinz from International Labour Organisation. “What brings people back is the memory of whether we are well treated. You don’t need to be a hotel tourism expert assess or to know if the atmosphere is friendly and helpful, even children can tell it.”
“The negative reputation that sector can and should be turned around,” says Kevin Curran of the union UNITE. He criticised the tourism industry’s employment model, where global brands rarely directly employ staff below a certain management level, but instead franchise out, and thus don’t take direct responsibility for the employees’ wages and wellbeing. “If the travel sector is serious about raising working conditions,” he added, “it either has to increase payment to agencies and demand they increase training and wages, or bring staffing back in house.”
Soren Stuber from accreditation body Travelife explained that the organisation now includes social issues in its auditing process. This includes mandatory private interviews with lower paid staff, such as housekeeping and kitchen staff. “We need to strengthen social auditing, and the industry has maybe not done enough,” said Soren.
The final event of the 2014 responsible tourism programme was How to Choose a Responsible Volunteering Opportunity Abroad. Many people are confused about what volunteering means, said David Coles, Volunteer Coordinator London School of Economics. He showed a slide featuring the first page of Google Image Results for the keywords “volunteer in Africa”. Almost all the photographs were of volunteers hugging children, yet said Coles, “there’s no document that says hugging children is part of sustainable international development”. He added that “volunteering is not a product you buy off a shelf, and you shouldn’t be looking for deals like ‘20% off’.”
“Would I be allowed to do this in my country?” said Sallie Grayson from People and Places, should be for the first question any volunteer asks, and if the answer is no, don’t go. She added that best practice in the volunteering sector would be to show how and where all money is spent for each project, and not just provide a pie chart breaking down overall expenditure.
“Volunteering is not the best thing in travel,” said Daniela Papi from Pepy Travels, “it’s the tiniest thing in development.” She said that companies need to stop dumbing down development, stop suggesting volunteers are “superheroes” who can save communities, stop promoting sympathy, and start promoting empathy. “We have to learn before we can help,” she added.
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About World Travel Market
World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend four-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.
More than 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL – London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM.
WTM, now in its 35th year, is the event where the travel industry conducts and concludes its deals.
WTM 2013 generated more than £2 billion of travel industry contracts, revealed independent research by Fusion Communications.
WTM is owned by the world’s leading events organiser Reed Exhibitions (RE), which organises a other portfolio’s of travel industry events including IBTM Events, the world’s leading showcases for the meetings and events industry and International Luxury Travel Market events.
In 2013, RE held more than 500 events in 40 countries bringing together more than six million people from around the world generating billions of dollars in business.
Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) is the world’s leading provider of exhibitions in the travel and tourism industry, with a wide-ranging portfolio of 21 international events in 14 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa.
Its market-leading, business-to-business events cover all elements of travel and tourism, including leisure travel, luxury travel, meetings, events, incentives and business travel, as well as golf, ski and spa travel.
RTE is part of Reed Exhibitions.