- Elaborate the regulatory and legal framework of Thomas Cook in context to tourism and travelling.
- Provide the regulation and legislation applied by Thomas Cook in health, safety and security.
- Provide the consumer protection legislation applied by Thomas Cook.
- Elaborate the role of business ethics required in the tourism and travel sector.
Legislation and Ethics in Travel and Tourism Sector
The tourism industry is customer oriented, main objective of which is to render high quality customer experience to the tourists. Companies operating in this industry regulate their services at both national and international level. This is crucial for firms to derive the involvement of business in welfare of society to work ethically and stay in market for longer span of time (Belias and et.al., 2019). In the present report, tour operator company, Thomas Cook, based in the UK is selected with reference to which there will be discussion on impacts of principles of health, safety and security legislation on travel and tourism sector. Also, legislation that relates to equality in this industry will be studied along with analysing the ethical dilemmas faced by firms operating here. Moreover, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy of Thomas Cook will be detailed.
1.1 Legal and regulatory framework of travel and tourism sector with reference to England and Wales
Legal and Regulatory Framework in England and Wales
It can be termed as a broader system consists of many rules and regulations imposed by the government of UK that govern and regulate the decision making and agreements. Tourism sector of the UK is growing at a rapid pace and thus, it is called as a large economic sector (Greenwood and Dwyer, 2015). Several legal and regulatory frameworks are there that vary from country to country among which some that are applied in England and Wales are given as below:
Laws and Tourism
Laws in tourism sector involve issues such as environmental protection, IPC and CRPC, health and safety legislation, contract law, etc. (Peralta, 2014). Tourism laws are all about rules and regulations imposed by government to protect the interest of individuals who travel from one nation to another through any mode of transportation whether it is by air, sea or land.
Laws influencing the rules of travel industry of England and Wales are:
1. Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulation 2008: This law was established aiming that consumers can be protected against any kind of unfair or misleading practice in tourism sector of UK.
2. Health and Safety at Work Act 1974: It involves various duties on employers so that health, safety and welfare of employees, general public, visitors or clients can be protected against any kind of harm (Boniface, Cooper and Cooper, 2016).
3. Licensing Act 2003: This act is imposed by the Parliament of UK to establish a single integrated scheme to provide license in England and Wales for the purpose of supplying alcohol as well as to offer entertainment or late night refreshment.
5. Data Protection Act 1998: This acts was also imposed by the Parliament of UK with an aim to protect the information of visitors safe and confidential by storing their data on computers or through any other way like organized paper filing system (Lu and et.al., 2016).
Regulatory framework of England and Wales includes:
1. SRA (strategic rail authority): Railway in England and Wales is regulated by the Railway Act 1993. It enforces the license condition and safeguards the interest of visitors.
2. CAA (civil aviation authority): When people travel through air transport, this authority protects their interest in the UK (Vellas, 2016).
3. ATOL (air travel operators licensing): This authority protects the visitors using air transport as well as buying air tickets and tour package.
4. ABTA (association of British travel agency): Its purpose is to deal with travel agents and travel operators with maintain high standards.
Courts that come under the same are:
1. Magistrates’ court: Its work is to handle civil and criminal cases occurring in tourism sector of England and Wales.
2. Country court: Cases that come here are related to the land.
3. Crown court: These deal with the criminal suits in England and Wales (Weiss and Dupont, 2018).
1.2 Surface, sea and air transport law in relation to the carriage of passengers within the legal and regulatory framework of United Kingdom
Transport law related to carriage of passengers under legal and regulatory framework of UK
Surface Law: Major aim behind this act is to safeguard the interest of passengers on board. In case of any claims against the physical damages or mental disorders if occur to passengers are taken with due consideration by this law. It is governed by The International Carriage of Passenger by Road Act, 1979 (Greenwood and Dwyer, 2015).
Also, it is responsible for taking care of the loss of luggage of passengers that comes under The Carriage by Railway Act, 1972.
Transport of goods, interest of disabled passengers as well as all people travelling through land are taken with care by this law in the UK.
Sea Law: This is a kind of contract law which covers the shipping safety and security. Also, this legislation is responsible for taking care of the environmental factors (Peralta, 2014).
However, the extent to which liability of the ship or ferry will be governed against damages suffered it by is all decided by The Athens Convention, 1974.
Air Law: This law is regulated by The Warsaw Convention of 1929 as per which in case if passenger meets with a personal injury or death while travelling through air then he/she can claim for the compensation.
All rules and regulations for same come under The Five Freedoms Agreement of 1944 in relation with landing across territory for traffic and non-traffic. Also, cargo and passenger landing are covered under this (Boniface, Cooper and Cooper, 2016).
Important acts to be considered under surface, sea and air transport
1. Carriage of Passenger by Road Act 1974: All passengers who are travelling through road in the UK are protected through this act and in case of they face any injury, the carriage is responsible to provide compensation for the same to travellers (Lu and et.al., 2016).
2. Warsaw convention 1929: This convention covers the international carriage where passengers are safeguarded against death or personal injury if occurs and provided with right to claim for the compensation for the losses suffered by them (Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Carriage by Air, Signed at Warsaw on 12 October 1929 - Warsaw Convention 1929, 2010). However, they must carry tickets while travelling.
3. Denied boarding compensation schemes 1997: Passengers are protected through this act as well in which all those who are travelling through air transport, their standards are raised. In case of any delay or cancellation of flight due to some reasons, passengers are provided with protection by the carriage (Vellas, 2016).
4. Montreal conference 1999: This act replaced The Warsaw Convention 1929 in UK and came into force in the year 2003 on 4th November. This serves as the single piece of legal system aiming to re-establish the uniformity and forecast of rules in relation with carriage of international passengers, cargo as well as their baggage (Weiss and Dupont, 2018).
From the above, Travel law consultant have to follow all the legislation of travel and tourism industry such that Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulation 2008, Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, strategic rail authority, civil aviation authority etc which helps a company to sustain its brand image in market. On the other side, in UK, the travel and tourism industry have to comply with surface, sea and transport law in order to carried of passengers.
2.1 Evaluating the impacts of principles of health, safety and security legislation on travel and tourism sector with reference to Thomas Cook
Several health, safety and security legislation are there that put direct impact on the functioning of Thomas Cook like:
- Health and Safety at Work Act 1974: As per this act, Thomas Cook is liable to give due consideration to the health and safety of employees at workplace. In this, whatever employee is performing in firm, employer is liable for the same. However, in this case, permission from the employer must be granted to employee to perform specific task. The governing authority of this act is health and safety commission (Sheehan, Grant and Garavan, 2018). In case if firm does not follow this act at workplace or if an employee gets harmed while performing any task, firm will be liable to give penalty for same, imposed by the government.
- Duty of Care: In accordance with this legislation, Thomas Cook is responsible for taking care of its consumers and at workplace, under vicarious liability, liability of supervisor is there for any act done by the subordinate at workplace.
- Data Protection Act 1988: According to this act, personal information of employees working in Thomas Cook is to be safeguarded. Also, it is applicable for the travelers or visitors and their right to get the personal information protected is covered under the same as implemented in March 2001 (Vargas-Sánchez and Moutinho, 2018). This personal information includes bank and house details, contact number along with any other information that is crucial to be there with the firm.
2.2 Analysing legislation that relates to equality with reference to Thomas Cook
To follow equality at workplace is significant for any organization irrespective of any sector and so as in Thomas Cook, UK. In travel and tourism industry, following equality plays a vital role as making discrimination on the basis of gender, race or disability leads to create serious consequences for the firm as per laws imposed by the government. Some of these acts are like:
- Racial Discrimination Act 1965: According to this, Thomas Cook is obliged to eliminate the discrimination done with employees at workplace on the basis of race, color, nationality, origins or ethnic and liable to treat them equally on all grounds (Hall, Gossling and Scott, 2015). Non-compliance of the same may lead business to pay huge penalty imposed by the regulatory authorities of UK.
- Disability Discrimination Act: In accordance with this act, people who are disabled and working in Thomas Cook are supposed to be treated equally like that of others. They have been provided with all rights like all those who are not disabled and so, in case if firms makes discrimination with them on the grounds of salary, workplace environment, etc., they have right to sue against them (Barker, Cave and Gordon, 2015).
- Human Rights Acts 1998: All rights of people that are covered in European convention on human rights in the UK come under this act which Thomas Cook is liable to follow to protect itself from any kind of obligation made from the side of UK government.
- Sex Discrimination Act 1975: This legislation is related with the provision which made for sex discrimination according to which Thomas Cook is not allowed to discriminate the employees based on their sex at workplace. There are in total 87 sections that are covered under sex discrimination act as imposed by UK act of parliament (Leung and Baloglu, 2013). Thus, in this act, both men and women are provided with equal protection at workplace against any kind of discrimination or harassment as well as it promotes equality among the individuals.
It has been analyses that the quoted firm has to comply with all the legislation and new rules which are made by government because it will help to create positive impact upon business as well as customers. On the other side, Thomas Cook also make sure that they uses Racial Discrimination Act 1965, Disability Discrimination Act, Human Rights Acts 1998, Sex Discrimination Act 1975.
3.1 Contract legislation in relation to travel and tourism customers
It can be termed as an agreement that is made in between two parties consisting of rights and obligations that arise depending on the nature of issue for which contract has been made (Supanti, Butcher and Fredline, 2015). Court is the authority that enforces all rights and regulations.
Importance of Contract
Major importance of contract in firms operating in travel and tourism sector of UK like Thomas Cook is that the travel company and passengers get aware that they are bind with each other legally (Hall, Gossling and Scott, 2015).
Another importance is that travel company under contract is having right to claim for the payment. On the other hand, consumer can also claim for the compensation in case if he/she would not get the promise made by firm fulfilled (Barker, Cave and Gordon, 2015).
Contract is also important to make consumer informed that a contract has been established in between him and the firm.
With the help of contract, travel company informs the traveler about all terms and conditions he needs to comply with (Leung and Baloglu, 2013).
In travel and tourism sector of UK, majorly three types of contracts are there that are being followed by the firms like Thomas Cook.
1. Supply of goods contract
2. Contract for provision of services
3. Package holiday contract
Some of the acts that come under the same are:
1. Supply of Goods and Services Act1988: As per this act, supplier is liable to make supply of the goods and need to offer services based on the contract made (Beliasand et.al., 2019).
It is because; after entering into the contract made by supplier, consumer starts expecting something in return. In case of Thomas Cook, visitor expects to have good accommodation of the hotel with a clean room. However, in case of non-fulfilment of same, consumer can sue the supplier (Sheehan, Grant and Garavan, 2018).
2. Holiday Contract: This is also like that of other contracts of travel and tourism including specific terms and conditions of Holiday contract which must be agreed by the individual dealing with holiday company like Thomas Cook (Supanti, Butcher and Fredline, 2015).
Secondly, details regarding location, hotel, rates, etc. must be mentioned on the brochure. Further, any important information by the traveller must be provided to consumer.
3.2 Consumer protection legislation in relation to travel and tourism customers
Consumer Protection Legislation
For the purpose of promoting and encouraging tourism in the travel sector, consumer protection legislation has been imposed under which tour operators like Thomas Cook become liable to provide competitive pricing with facilitating increased participation of consumers (Hall, Gossling and Scott, 2015).
To develop the services is the duty of supplier and preventing consumer from any of inappropriate business practice is his responsibility. To protect the interest of consumers, relation between tour operators, suppliers as well as tourists plays a vital role (Barker, Cave and Gordon, 2015).
In order to protect the well-being of consumers, it is vital to consider the laws imposed at national and international levels that are followed by Thomas Cook like:
1. Trade Description Act 1968: Under the same, complete details about the goods and services being traded is given. The Merchandise Marks Act has replaced it in the year 1887 to 1957 which included provisions like wrong description of goods and services that are being traded (Leung and Baloglu, 2013). It helps in the safeguarding the consumers who faced the issue of wrong description of goods and services provided by company. Under section 14 of the act, firms like Thomas Cook are liable to provide correct description regarding goods and services that they are offering and in case it is not there, consumer has right to sue against the firm (Belias and et.al., 2019).
2. Consumer Protection Act 1987: This act was imposed with an aim to safeguard the interest of consumers where travel companies like Thomas Cook are under obligation of providing quality products and services to consumers that would not harm them in any case (3 Components of the Consumer Protection Act (1987), 2017). Also, consumers should be well-informed about the products and services given by the tour operator.
3. Package Travel Regulation: According to this act, the tour operator like Thomas Cook is under obligation that they have to provide complete details regarding their tour package to the consumers (Sheehan, Grant and Garavan, 2018). In case if the details given in the information sheet do not match with what has been told to consumer then he can breach the contract for unfair trading.
4.1 Ethical dilemmas faced by the travel and tourism sector
Travel and tourism industry of UK is growing at a fast pace and increasing profits and revenue every year. However, along with growth, there are many issues being faced by this sector that should be addressed positively. Firms operating in this sector like Thomas Cook aims at providing an ethical experience and an environment which is free from ethical dilemmas. For the same, constant interaction in between travellers and the tour providers and operators is of utmost importance. To run business ethically, it is highly important to consider the environmental protection while rendering any services to tourists (Bartsch, 2016). It is the responsibility of Thomas Cook to ensure that the cultural differences should not be there while organizing any tour. Further, it is crucial to provide right information and knowledge to visitors so that they can be guided properly while travelling in a nation.
It has been assessed that there are many cases where tourists have been exploited as well as discriminated on the basis of their culture, colour and heritage values. Also, sometimes, main concern of the travellers is of language barrier. Thus, to resolve this issue, Thomas Cook has to make effort to improve the communication between citizens and tourists. Further, a lot of factors are there that contribute in the depletion of social values as well as natural resources and so, need to be taken care of as they add ethical dilemmas to the sector. Further, the economic instability is one more reason by which Thomas Cook sometimes get affected because of not having favourable travel costs (The ethical dilemmas in tourism and hospitality, 2014). Therefore, it can be said that with making successful efforts like considering on green issues in business, providing advertisements with keeping in mind the cultural values of people, following investment and finance ethics, Thomas Cook can effectually deal with ethical dilemmas being faced by the travel and tourism sector of UK.
For the purpose of understanding importance of running business ethically, Kant’s Ethical Theory (Kant’s Moral Philosophy) proves to be highly helpful as per which the major principle based on morality is the standard of rationality. As per Kant, all immoral actions are irrational because these lead to violate the Categorical Imperative i.e. an objective which is rationally important to be present in a business. According to Kant, a business can knowledge of only those things which it can experience (Kant's Moral Philosophy, 2016). He focused on a universal ethical principle, that is, humanity. He said that humanity is the major factor that a business should always respect and accordingly, rules should be framed. Further, he believed that although God and immorality of the soul cannot be seen but, business should always hope that souls are immortal and God is really present who designed this world based on the principles of justice.
There are so many ethical issues which are face by the travel and tourism industry such there are many cases where tourists have been exploited as well as discriminated on the basis of their culture, colour and heritage values. But it is quite essential to overcome such dilemmas and that is why quoted organization has to make effort to improve the communication between citizens and tourists.
4.2 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy of Thomas Cook
CSR (corporate social responsibility) refers to the liability of firms towards society to make efforts for their welfare and provide benefits through various means. In travel and tourism sector, there are many responsibilities of firms like Thomas Cook towards society like they need to use eco-friendly resources so that no harmful effects on people would be there as well as environment can also be protected against any risk. Firm is required to make contribution towards cultural and social program with giving due consideration on waste and pollution reduction process (Supanti, Butcher and Fredline, 2015). With making fruitful efforts like involving the society in programs, giving employment opportunities to local residents of nation, getting indulged in fair practices will result in make the firm able to gain competitive advantage over others with sustainability.
In travel and tourism sector of UK, Thomas Cook is having high goodwill and market share. As per them, just doing business effectually is not enough and making initiatives for the welfare of society is equally important. For the groups that are economically and socially backward, company has made lots of efforts to improve their position (Crotti and Misrahi, 2015). Thomas Cook is having its own CSR (corporate social responsibility) committee according to which they are focusing on following areas:
- Education and employability – Company is providing diploma degrees in the field of travel and tourism to people through rendering vocational education who are economically backward and cannot afford required qualification to live their life in a well manner.
- Rural tribal areas – Thomas Cook has made many efforts to bring development in the rural and tribal areas of nation with focusing on their health, education, ecology as well as on empowering the women (De Grosbois, 2016).
- Health and sanitation – It has been seen that at tourist destinations, there is lack of sanitation facilities and so, to improve the same, Thomas Cook has made initiatives like it provided proper sanitation and environment friendly toilets which are maintained on regular basis in terms of their cleanliness.
- Providing funds – Company provides funds to many associations like emergency and red cross society or in case if in some nation, man-made or natural disaster occurs. Also, they donate in charities approximately 14% of their profit every year (Mossaz and Coghlan, 2017).
From the above report, it can be concluded that there are huge impacts of principles of health, safety and security legislation being followed in Thomas Cook as in case of their non-compliance, firm may have deal with serious consequences like employee or visitor can sue firm against the same. Also, it has been assessed that to follow equality at workplace is highly important for Thomas Cook like any other firm in travel and tourism sector of UK to protect itself against any penalty imposed by government. Further, it can be articulated that, Thomas Cook is giving due consideration on business ethics and corporate social responsibilities that will help the firm in gaining sustainability and competitive edge over others in the market.