Tourism Concern was closed by its trustees in September 2018. The website is now being archived gradually for potential use as a reference source for campaigners and educators.

When re-edited, this page will contain information about the organisation and its thirty year history. What you read below is the content as it was on the date of closure.

Tourism Concern is a charity registered in the UK (charity number 1064020).

  • We expose tourism’s worst human rights abuses and campaign against them.
  • Equally importantly, we promote tourism that benefits local people in tourist destinations.

Our Vision  

Tourism which is ethical, fair and a positive experience for both travellers and the people and places they visit

Our Mission

To ensure tourism always benefits local people by challenging bad practice and promoting better tourism

Our Principles

  • Independence
    • We are a non-industry based organisation and strongly believe that our independence is vital to our role.
  • Listening
    • We believe in listening to the opinions and perspectives of our partners in destination communities. Many campaigns have been sparked off by communities asking us for help.
  • Shared values and vision
    • We believe in working with organisations that share our values and vision and we strive to work collaboratively towards common goals.
  • Inclusivity
    • We believe that all people have the right to participate in all decision-making that affects them.
  • Ethical practices
    • We believe in, and strive to adopt, low-impact “green” policies and practices, purchasing and promoting fair trade products.

Our approach to tourism development

  • Human rights and self-determination of communities must be at the core of every tourism development. This includes the right to meaningful participation and consultation including free, prior and informed consent on whether to what extent and in what form tourism takes place.
  • If tourism is developed, it needs to seek a widespread and fair distribution of economic and social benefits throughout the recipient communities, including improving local prosperity, quality of life and social equity.Tourism industry operators and governments must be accountable to the people whose land and cultures are being utilised for the benefit of tourists and tourism businesses.
  • Strategies must empower people to have a say in the development of their communities and country.
  • Attention must be given to marginalised and vulnerable groups such as women, children, minorities, illegal workers and indigenous people working or affected by the tourism industry.
  • Tourism should be a positive and beneficial experience for travellers and hosts alike in order to act as a force for mutual understanding, empathy and respect.

Our story

Tourism Concern began in 1988 as a small network of global development activists and tourism academics. They all wanted to challenge the exploitation of people and places by a fast growing global tourism industry. The new network, co-ordinated by Alison Stancliffe, linked up with similar initiatives elsewhere in the world, at a time when the tourism industry’s negative impact was hardly on the radar.

By 1989, the network had become a formal membership organisation and in 1991 they were able to employ Tricia Barnett as Director. She developed the organisation into a globally respected campaigning and education charity, heading a team working out of London Metropolitan University until 2012.

Tourism Concern is now based in Croydon, South London, with a small staff and volunteers headed up by current Executive Director Mark Watson.

From the start, Tourism Concern demonstrated tourism’s links with wider issues of development and human rights.

Our first major report, Beyond the Green Horizon, set out ground breaking principles for sustainable tourism development, to coincide with the Rio Earth Summit of 1992. Our many subsequent campaigns have always been backed up by research aiming to open up debate and bring about change.

In the mid 1990s we began our long running work on fair trade and tourism, and by the end of the decade we had produced the first web-based listings of community tourism initiatives – the forerunner of our best-selling Ethical Travel Guide and Online Ethical Travel Guide.

In the 2000s we focused largely on challenging the tourism industry to embrace corporate and social responsibility. So far in the 2010s we have highlighted the urgent issue of water equity and tourism, investigated the impact of all-inclusive resorts and addressed the growing problems associated with certain types of voluntourism.

In past years we produced numerous print resources for schools, universities, the public and the tourism industry, and published a highly respected magazine, In Focus.

Tourism Concern today is first and foremost a campaigning and networking organisation, with a diverse membership. Our management council works with staff and volunteers to ensure that we take effective action for ethical tourism.

Thirty years on from our founding, the need to fight exploitation in tourism is still pressing and we continue to do it with passion.