In a nutshell, tourism law refers to either general government regulations or specific travel and hospitality industry laws. What follows is an overview of the laws governing tourism and an explanation of why they are so important to travel consumers.
Why Do We Need Tourism Laws?
According to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the purpose of travel legislation is to provide a regulatory framework for the proper development and management of tourism activities. Ideally, this will aid in the conservation of natural resources and the preservation of cultural traditions. As an added benefit, travel consumers and organizations receive basic legal protection.
However, creating and enforcing tourism laws is notably lax around the world. Certain developing countries have not only a weak travel infrastructure, but offer zero resources or protection to non-local visitors. Understandably, popular countries also struggle to monitor and enforce laws to protect tourists because of the sheer number of visitors and unscrupulous business people who target tourists.
Major Tourism Laws
Tourism laws refer to a combination of state, federal and international laws that regulate various aspects and functions of the travel industry. For instance, travel law may involve anything from hospitality to employment to public health regulations.
In America, there are a few prominent legal regulations, such as seller of travel laws. There are at least five states that maintain seller of travel laws. These states are Iowa, Hawaii, Florida, Nevada, California and Washington. To explain, a seller of travel law means that the state requires anyone who provides travel related services to register with the government. They will be required to display their registration number on their advertising. Consequently, travel consumers in these states are guaranteed a minimum level of recourse if they are the victims of fraud or exploitation. Even though almost all other states do not have official travel regulation agencies, most states have some sort of lax financial security registrations, such as posting bonds with the government.
Passenger Bill of Rights
National airline travel has become more scrutinized because of security concerns and airline companies are streamlining operations and cutting back services. Traveling by air can be a frustrating and time consuming process. However, there are basic airline passenger bill of rights laws that regulate how passengers are treated by airline companies. The most common legislation type is a statute that sets standards for unique travel situations, such as when passengers are stuck in a delayed plane or waiting in an airport for a delayed flight. Some states do not require, but ask that travel agents inform their clients of certain restrictions or public health problems. Many states expect that travel agents will share State Department travel warnings with their clients. Other states have enacted local laws and opened free tourist centers to increase incoming tourism.
Common Tourism Law Problems
There are many common travel related problems that are covered by state regulations. For starters, lost or damaged baggage is a chronic travel issue. This becomes a heated problem when the lost item is something expensive such as artwork or a family heirloom. Thus, every airline will have their own regulations, which of course tends to limit their legal and financial liabilities. Every state has their own laws regarding required consumer disclosure notices. This could involve potential risks and limitations of liability.
The laws governing tourism tend to be disorganized and non-standardized. However, every Tourism Law attempts to protect travel consumers and organizations.