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ITB Berlin: Is it finally time for ethical tourism?

Palm tree at Malaysia's Tioman Island beach, view towards water. The country was 2019's ITB Berlin partner .
A palm tree on Malaysia’s Tioman Island Beach, why would anyone think of human rights abuses here? (Photo: David Russo/flickr)

ITB Berlin, the world’s largest tourism trade fair, wants to quit promoting countries where ethical standards aren’t upheld. Eventually, someday, maybe.

Things Germans take issue with on their holidays: territorial towel politics and no-one speaking German in Marrakech. Oh, and the state of their relationships during the trial that taking a vacation is. Things German are totally fine with during their holidays: human rights violations in their all-inclusive paradise. And, to be honest, we know it’s not so different with us Brits, Americans and Australians.

This year the ITB Berlin faced criticism for partnering with Malaysia; the Malaysia of picturesque palm trees, dreamy beaches, oh, and the flogging of its LGBTQI+ citizens. As a consequence of this year’s stern censure, ITB wants to stop promoting countries that are in breach of ethical minimum standards. But not immediately, of course. The new code of conduct won’t apply to next year’s partner country, Oman.

But if the ITB really wants to advocate ethical travelling, they need to honestly inform the public about the environmental burden their flights to, say, Barcelona have. The global climate catastrophe is already impacting human rights, too, after all.

Translated by Aida Baghernejad


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