KINGSTON, Jamaica (January 10, 2011) – The promotion of sound ethical principles would improve the economic well-being of tourism-dependent countries, while ensuring the livelihood of millions, asserted a consultant for one of the top global public relations practices.
Professor Deon Higgins, who practises ethics training at the New York-headquartered Ruder Finn, believes ethics education and training are indispensable tools for the tourism industry.
“Unethical conduct often results in negative publicity that can be devastating. I believe that ethics training for sustainable tourism, at every level within the tourist industry, is critical,” she told delegates attending the recent 19th Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism in Kingston, Jamaica.
Tourism being the leading source of foreign exchange and government tax revenues for many countries in the region, the Jamaica-born Higgins believes the establishment of a comprehensive ethics training program can enrich the experience of visitors, and add value to the already strong Caribbean tourism brand.
“Effective tourism ethics training, manifested in how we receive and treat our visitors, the conduct of tourism-related personnel – from the point-of-arrival to point-of-departure – can result in a virtuous cycle of positive word-of-mouth that can fuel repeat visits, loyalty and goodwill. It can also play a critical role in mitigating tourism-related risks,” she says.
Stakeholders within the tourism industry, she adds, should understand the ethical implications of their conduct when exercising responsibilities.
“Appropriate personnel should be made aware of the laws, regulations and practices that govern their conduct and should be encouraged to go beyond what is legally required to make decisions that are ethical,” she notes.
A Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional (CCEP) and adjunct associate professor of public relations at Fordham University in the Bronx, Professor Higgins proposes ethics training for sustainable tourism should include: a personal ethics self-assessment by managerial staff; the development of vision statements and codes of conduct; the establishment of an ethics office and the development of an organizational culture of ethics.
Integrity, she says, should be “so embedded that the ‘right’ conduct becomes a habit.”
The CMEx meeting in Jamaica, which concluded last October, was supported by the Jamaica Tourist Board and Jamaica’s Ministry of Tourism. Additional contributors included: Air Jamaica/Caribbean Airlines, Altamont Court Hotel, American Airlines, Anse Chastanet Resort, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Barbara Pyle Foundation, Bay Gardens Resorts, Bob Marley Museum, British Virgin Islands Tourist Board, Caribbean Broadcasting Union, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust, Caribbean Tourism Organization, CaribWorldNews, Choice Hotels International, Coco Palm, Community Benefit Development, Courtleigh Hotel & Suites, Devon House, 4P Group, Jade Mountain, Knutsford Court Hotel, LIAT, Marketplace Excellence, Mayberry Investments Ltd., michael D. communications, Princess Hotel Guyana, Rastafari Indigenous Village, RIU Hotels & Resorts, Ruder Finn, Saint Lucia Tourist Board, Scotchies Tree, Spanish Court Hotel, Spirit Airlines, SuperClubs, St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), The Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, The SpeakEasy M.E.D.I.A. Foundation, Tourism Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago, United States Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, and Wyndham Kingston Jamaica.
About The Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx)
CMEx’s mission is to support and develop the ability of the media, government, the travel and tourism industry and communities to consider the importance of tourism in sustainable development, while lending a hand to the communities involved by sharing relevant expertise, financial and in-kind assistance.
For additional details, visit www.cmexmedia.org