Norwegian tour operators violate international law and Norwegian marketing law, claims Norwegian NGO
On 24 September, the Association of Norwegian NGO’s for Palestine released its report on Norwegian tourism in Israel and Palestine. The report looks into eight Norwegian tour operators and how they market and arranges group travels and tours in Israel and Palestine in 2014. The report is available in Norwegian.
Misinformation and visits to the Israeli settlements
The report points out- and in turn counteract misinformation that violate Norwegian marketing law on package tours to Israel and Palestine. The main findings of the report is that five out of eight tour operators almost exclusively markets its trips to Israel, although the tours also visit Palestinian cities and areas. A review of the tours shows that 54% of the places advertised as Israel is actually located in Palestinian and Syrian (the Golan Heights) occupied territories.
The report also reveals that several of the Norwegian tour operators organizing trips to the illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It turns out that as many as five of the eight tour operators visits on or more settlements during the their tour- and actively supports the economic activity in the settlements by staying overnight in hotels in settlements such as Ariel or visiting the Ahava-factory which produces products from the dead sea.
Follow the ethical guidelines of UNWTO
The goal of the report is to ensure that the tours take place in accordance with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) guidelines for ethical tourism, as well as affect the tour operators operating in accordance with and respect for human rights and international law.
– We find it very alarming that Norwegian tour operators are promoting tours to Israel without differentiating what is Israeli or Palestinian territory and that several of the tour operators contribute to economic activity in the illegal Israeli settlements in violation of international law, says Anna Lund Bjørnsen, head of the Association of Norwegian NGO’s for Palestine.
The report recommends that the tour operators must correct its marketing and advertisement and that the tours should not contribute financially to the illegal settlements. Another recommendation is that the tour operators should strive to use local Palestinian tour guides and tour operators when traveling in Palestine.
– Norwegian tour operators should recognize their responsibility and follow our recommendations to operate in line with the UN framework of respect for human rights and the UNWTO guidelines for ethical tourism, says Anna Lund Bjørnsen.
The report received a lot of attention in Norwegian media after the launch and the federation of Norwegian NGOs for Palestine is now in a dialogue with the Enterprise federation of Norway – “Virke Reise Utland” that organizes several of the Norwegian tour operators in order to make changes in the way that these operators markets and arranges the tours.