Human Rights and the Hotel Industry

International Tourism Partnership has prepared a Know How Guide as a high-level introduction to human rights for the hotel industry – what human rights are, the context of the hotel industry, steps to implement the UN Guiding Principles and resources for further reading.

The Know How Guide is primarily written for Corporate Responsibility Managers in hotel companies, though it may also be of interest to individual properties.

What are human rights?

Human rights are fundamental principles and standards that aim to secure dignity, freedom and equality for all people. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights of 1948 sets out 30 fundamental human rights. This, together with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols, form the International Bill of Rights.

Human rights underpin everything we do, from the way staff are treated, their working conditions, to how guests are treated, in the supply chain and how goods and services for the hotel are produced, in the communities where a hotel is based and in the way a hotel or hotel business is run. Many issues are inter-related, e.g. water is not just an environmental issue: access to water is a human rights issue.

Some key human rights issues in hotels

  • Right to work – are you providing jobs for local communities and contributing to the local economy?
  • Labour conditions – are your staff well-treated?
  • Land rights and forced displacement – has your hotel siting denied local people access to their land?
  • Forced labour – how well are your agency workers treated? Can you be sure they are not being exploited?
  • The right to water and sanitation – are you enhancing the drinking water availability for the local area? Or is your hotel’s consumption of water at the expense of others?
  • The right to life and health – how do you ensure staff wellbeing?
  • The right to dignity and privacy – how do you protect the privacy of your guests?
  • Economic impacts– How are you giving back to the local communities through employment and supply chains? Are you paying suppliers and workforce fairly?
  • Cultural impacts – Are you providing a centre for community involvement that enables positive and shared cultural experiences? Or do you provide excursions that exploit local communities?
  • Child labour – are any of the goods or services you use the product of child labour?
  • Sexual exploitation – are your premises used to sexually abuse adults or children?
  • The right to participate – do your workers have a voice?

For more information about human rights and how it is relevant for the hotel industry as well as information about how to start the work, develop a human rights policy, please follow the following link: Here you can also download the full Know How Guide. 

Source: International Tourism Partnership.