call to European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA) to address misleading information on websites about destinations stays unanswered

February 2013

Any information provided to tourists about their holiday destination should be accurate, complete, honest and not misleading. Protection of  tourists and prevention of accidents should be high ranked by touristic service providers.

Yet, while investigating websites and travel catalogues, one notices that economic interests prevail over safety concerns. In many cases touristic stakeholders conceal safety risks, fearing that naming risks gives a negative impression of the destination and will keep tourists away.

Promoting destinations should not be based on incorrect image building and certainly not on incorrect or ignored safety issues, as safety of the tourist should be the first concern of touristic stakeholders. Such deceptive image puts at stake the personal security of a tourist visiting a so called "safe" destination.

This fear and the consequential lack of information and/or misleading information are not acceptable, since honest and complete information makes the difference between life and death.

SCT would have liked to raise the problem of misleading information on touristic websites in a meeting with EASA. She would have asked to consider the possibility to address the provision of these kinds of incorrect and deceptive information on destinations as "false advertising" and to provide a self-regulatory standard on the responsibility of travel organizers to inform travelers in a correct and non deceptive way about accident prevention, health, safety and security at holiday destinations, according to the Global Code of Ethics for tourism, set up by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). She would have suggested a grading system of tourist destinations, tourist accommodations, travel agents, ...  according to ethically uncontroversial advertising.

Yet, SCT never got the opportunity to have a meeting. Mails and following reminders, sent between July 2012 and February 2013, stayed unanswered. Except from a polite acknowledgment of receipt of our emails: "we are currently gathering information on this topic and we will get back to you as soon as possible."