Legal and Institutional Intelligence Gathering System on Tourism

In tourism, economic intelligence requires thorough knowledge of the regulations applicable to the sector. Knowledge of the law is a requirement for tourism development in that it forms the framework for such activities.

Several factors make access to legal information especially complicated. The legislation and regulations covering tourism and its allied fields are issued by States (centralized and decentralized) and by international organizations, functioning on the basis of cooperation on universal scope (e.g. World Trade Organization (WTO), regional scope, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Central American Common Market (CACM), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Southern Community Market (MERCOSUR), or through an integration, for instance, the European Union. The wide range of sources of regulations, both vertical (different State and infra-State structures) and horizontal (geographic and supra-State), makes it difficult to grasp them.

Moreover, legislation and regulations affecting tourism tend to involve many sectors so are rarely approached as if pertaining to an independent political sector. This legislation and regulations depend on the approach to sectoral policies and in some cases mimic the means and ways of agricultural policy and industrial policy. The institutional background of every country and its system of governance does condition the elaboration and implementation of tourism policy, and the legislation and regulations deriving from such policy. In many countries, tourism legislation and regulations can be found in the areas of economics, trade, consumer affairs, the environment, town planning, etc.

It is therefore necessary, in a global economy, to understand the legal systems and current regulatory situation in States and in international organizations. This is necessary for UNWTO Member States so that they can position their own rules, and for national tourism economic operators having transnational activities.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in its aim to provide information and technical assistance on the legal aspects of tourism to UNWTO Member States, is therefore proposing to set up tools for legal intelligence gathering and for communicating the results of such gathering.