Tourism and Ethics
By Sema Kutlu
For many of us, it has been very confusing to decide what is right and what is wrong lately, as we often witness so many actions that do not look right or hear words that do not sound nice. There are even times that we are stumped seeing how much some of the people we value can disappoint us. For instance, there may be times that we say “No, he wouldn’t do that. He is a nice, decent, reliable person” and the result may be a disappointment. As a person who has experienced such a sad disappointment, I felt the need to
explain the word ‘ethics’ while I was questioning ‘Is this ethical?’, ‘this wasn’t ethical’. In addition to this, I would like to mention how much the issue of ethics is important regarding tourism.
Regarding Philosophy, Aristotle looks on ‘ethics’ as a different field from the theoretical sciences. Like Plato and Socrates, to him, the ultimate objective is the well-being of human, therefore, a well-lived life should be based upon ethical virtues such as justice, courage, temperance, honor etc. He thinks that ‘happiness’ and ‘living well’ are the designators of the highest good of human. Each course of action should target the good of human as an individual and also the humankind as a whole. Therefore, if the ultimate objective is the well-being of human, all actions serving this objective are good, and the ones that contradict this objective are wrong. With regard to this understanding, the human conduct that should be applied or avoided, in other words, codes of ethics are determined in many fields of professions, including the tourism sector, in order to develop and improve the human life.
Personally, I’m one of those people who believe in tourism’s contribution to mutual understanding and respect between people and societies.
Regarding tourism ethics, on top of our list is the tourism stakeholders’ and tourists’ understanding and promoting the values of humanity. Seeing the beauty of the diversity of the religious, philosophical and moral beliefs and having respect for them provide the basis and the consequence of a responsible tourism.
There is something I’ve observed with pleasure lately. People have started to travel well-prepared and informed in advance by reading books on cultural, religious, natural and touristic values of their destinations and even possible health problems they may suffer there. The health issue is under the responsibility of the person himself and the hosting country. The practice of getting information about our destination is an important step in gaining respect for that country and its values.
When people are more informed about the values, lifestyles and practices of other societies, they will have more respect for them. This will contribute a lot to a hospitable welcome at a tourists’ destination and help him/her feel more comfortable.
It’s so unfortunate that while we’re trying to learn and adopt new things in hospitality business, there is a problem of terror which negatively influences Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. The security of life and property of tourists is under the responsibility of the hosting country. In the current situation, it is important to be more conscious not only about the life and property of tourists, but also about the preservation of cultural and historical heritage sites. In order to achieve this goal, governmental and non-governmental organizations and other tourism stakeholders, should work more actively and coordinately. The education, security and precautions on these issues and the development of the related laws and regulations will help tourism to overcome this situation with a little damage or non- damaged at all.
In such a situation where terrorism is quite damaging, it has become more important for the tourists to abstain from any conduct which can be felt offensive or injurious by the local people. The principal concern must be raising the consciousness of ones’ responsibilities on the preservation of all world heritage sites and other cultural, natural, religious and historical values and the promotion of international relations. And this can only be achieved by a good education in the light of the codes of ethics starting from a very early age, continuing to the time we take our last breath.