Code of Ethics/Conduct

Image by Belinda Jackson

Why a Code of Ethics?

Travel writing often involves one of the most coveted of all opportunities available to the media – a wealth of journeys, experiences and what must seem to some outsiders to be one long holiday.

In reality, of course, tourism is an important industry and responsible travel writing is a serious business – which is why the ASTW, like other professional organisations around the globe, has rules to help members avoid potential traps.

Importantly, our Code of Ethics promotes the fundamental principles of journalism that writers should provide sound and accurate information to the public with honest and fair praise and criticism as appropriate. It is a requirement that writers/broadcasters must have first-hand knowledge of the subject matter (or access to completely reliable sources).

Favourable reviews may not be ‘bought’ and writers must not provide copy free of charge to any publication or website. PR members must not seek free copy for promotional publications, coerce writer members into giving favourable reviews or seek free images from familiarisation trips (famils) for promotional purposes. See also Guidelines for hosted travel.

ASTW Code of Ethics:

As representatives of the public interest,

(a) Members shall serve as ‘travel critics’ who are as ready to comment critically as to praise, with the aim of keeping the public fully and clearly informed on all relevant aspects of travel.

(b) Full Writer members and Associate Writer members intending to prepare material for publication or broadcast (or preparing such material) shall

  • Present honest, accurate and fair reports
  • Not accept payment or courtesies in return for writing favourably contrary to their true appraisal of the subject/s
  • Only write or broadcast travel-related material about which they have first-hand knowledge or access to other reliable sources
  • Not permit his or her byline or name to appear on work not entirely his or her own
  • Disclose to all potential editors/publishers any previous employment or association with hosted travel destination, product, service firm or supplier

(c) Members shall act in an honest, forthright and professional manner both in their writing/photographic/broadcasting endeavours and in dealings with others in the travel profession, clients, suppliers and those in related fields. In addition, Members on assignment or participating in or hosting ASTW functions and events shall:

  • Not engage in conduct that embarrasses the ASTW or otherwise harms its reputation or professionalism
  • Treat colleagues and hosts/host countries with common courtesy and conduct themselves as ambassadors of the ASTW, the travel industry and Australia
  • On hosted trips, participate in all scheduled activities unless ill, incapacitated or if previous arrangements have been approved by the host

(d) Public Relations members accept they are obliged to report offence/s or transgressions from members on assignments or hosted events in writing to the committee.

(e) Members shall accept that any infringement of ASTW Code of Ethics, plagiarism or other unethical acts may, at the discretion of the Committee, preclude or suspend them from membership of ASTW.

(f) Full Writer members and Associate Writer members who operate as freelance writers or photographers shall:

  • Acknowledge they undertake writing/photography/broadcasting for commercial gain and as industry professionals
  • Substantiate for ASTW membership only on work that has been financially rewarded. (ASTW strongly discourages members from submitting work for print or on-line, without financial reward from the publications concerned. ASTW recognises there are circumstances where future financial reward might arise from minor unpaid work, but recommends these be limited).

(g) Full Writer members and Associate Writer members who are editors or who commission travel-related work shall not, as a rule, publish work by ASTW members without payment.

(h) Public Relations members shall not promote any travel-related publication of any sort to ASTW members that does not provide payment.

(i) Public Relations members will not make representations to Full Writer members and Associate Writer members to report favourably on behalf of their clients and/or products, or request that they supply material resulting from an invitation for free in return for offering such invitations and/or facilities.