Guest blog from the Traveller Movement: The investigation into Pontins and making meaningful change

Published: 8 March 2024

The investigation into Pontins

In recent years, discrimination against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities has come under scrutiny. The recent report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) revealed unlawful practices at Pontins holiday parks.

The findings are not just a reflection of one company's actions. They underscore systemic issues in the hospitality sector and beyond.

The EHRC's investigation uncovered evidence suggesting that Pontins staff operated a policy aimed at barring Irish Travellers from their holiday camps between 2013 and 2018. Staff relied on surnames, accents and addresses to profile potential guests. This led to refusals and cancellations of bookings. This discriminatory practice broke the law and perpetuated harmful stereotypes and marginalisation.

The impact of the EHRC’s findings extend beyond Pontins. They highlight broader issues within the hospitality industry. Organisations must urgently reevaluate their policies and practices to ensure that they do not discriminate. While Pontins must take immediate steps to put right its wrongs, the broader hospitality sector must also make essential changes.

What changes can organisations make to avoid future discrimination?

Firstly, there must be zero tolerance to discrimination at all levels. This includes:

  • revisiting hiring practices
  • providing comprehensive training on diversity and inclusion
  • establishing clear protocols for addressing discrimination complaints

Additionally, companies must actively engage with (Romani) Gypsy, Roma and Irish Traveller groups to gain insights and perspectives that can inform more inclusive policies.

The recommendations outlined in the Pontins report are key to driving meaningful change. However, the responsibility is not solely on Pontins. The EHRC's warning against the use of the electoral register for screening guests serves as a wake-up call for the entire hospitality sector.

Combatting discrimination against (Romani) Gypsy, Roma and Irish Traveller communities is not easy. All organisations must commit to doing so. By fostering environments that celebrate diversity and respect the rights of all individuals, we can create a more equal society.

The Traveller Movement is committed to holding organisations accountable for their actions. We advocate for systemic reforms that address the root causes of discrimination.

This change cannot happen without commitment from everyone, from politicians to prosecutors, to tackle the racism our communities face.