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Home > eCalypso > Social Tourism

The Right to Tourism and Travel

Social tourism is a concept based on the right to tourism for all.

The right derives from paid holidays recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, which states that "all human begins have the right to rest, leisure time, a limit to working hours, and paid holidays" (art. 24).

Social tourism is not marginal or extraneous to tourism in general, on the contrary, it is a way of putting into practice this universal right to participate in tourism, to travel, to get to know other regions and countries, the very foundation of tourism as recalled by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in its opinion on "Social Tourism in Europe", also known as the Declaration of Barcelona and adopted in 2006.

The right is also mentioned in Article 7 of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism adopted in 1999 by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and officially recognised by the United Nations in 2001.

It states that "Social tourism, and in particular associative tourism, which facilitates widespread access to leisure, travel and holidays, should be developed with the support of the public authorities" and that "family, youth, student and senior tourism and tourism for people with disabilities, should be encouraged and facilitates".

What is meant by social tourism?

There is no single and unique definition of "social tourism". In the Montreal Declaration "Towards a humanist and social vision of tourism" adopted by 1996, the International Social Tourism Organisation (ISTO) states precisely what the ambition, strenghts and identification criteria are of social tourism.

The EESC also proposes an interesting approach in its opinion paper about "Social tourism in Europe" stating "that an activity constitutes social tourism whenever three conditions are met:

  • Real-life circumstances are sich that it is totally or partially impossible to fully exercise the right to tourism. This may be due to economic conditions, physical or mental disability, personal or family isolation, reduced mobility, geographical difficulties, and a wide veriety of causes which ultimately constitute a real obstacle;- Someone - be it a public or private institution, a company, a trade union, or simply an organised group of people - decides to take action to overcome or reduce the obstacle which prevents a person from exercising their right to tourism.
  • This action is effective and actually helps a group of people to participate in tourism in a manner which respects the values of sustainability, accessibility and solidarity.

More recently, at the World Social Tourism Conference held in Essaouira in 2012, the President of ISTO stated that "by social tourism, we aim at asserting a philosophy - tourism that puts people at the heart of the action, describing a tourism sector where operators share common goals which allows the greatest number of people to have access to tourism and holidays, and finally claim the implementation of social policies for tourism by the national, regional and local goverments who are our natural partners".

Further information

Here are some useful links for further information on the subject:

eCalypso recognised by the World Travel Market 2013, London for actions towards  Responsible Tourism:

  • International Social Tourism Organisation (OITS)
  • UNAT
  • Floreal Group
  • Costa Cálida. Región de Murcia
  • Vacances Ouvertes
  • Inatel
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