Tourism and Hospitality (Jun 2021)

The New Responsible Tourism Paradigm: The UNWTO’s Discourse Following the Spread of COVID-19

  • Sabrina Tremblay-Huet,
  • Dominic Lapointe

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 2, no. 15
pp. 248 – 260


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The UNWTO’s discourse has focused on managing the effects of COVID-19 on tourism mobility since the outbreak was taken over by the WHO, as tourism is prominent amongst the hardest hit sectors. Emanating from the UNWTO as one of the dominant stakeholders in tourism discourse construction, an interesting component is the new meaning attributed to ‘responsible tourism’, which coincides with severe sanitary measures in this moment. Through critical discourse analysis and the theoretical framework offered by Iris Marion Young on responsibility for justice, this article will first demonstrate how the reappropriation of the term is in line with the UNWTO’s neoliberal perspective on tourism. The result is the promotion of sanitary measures for the protection of tourism as a consumer industry, rather than for the protection of the individuals involved. It is also cementing the pedestal on which the UN agency places the tourist-consumer, namely through the International Code for the Protection of Tourists project. This paper closes with thoughts on how the emerging dominant discourse on responsible tourism is internalized by tourism stakeholders as the new normal, which would gain in being explored through the lens of Foucault’s work on the concept of biopolitics and the neoliberal subject.