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Best Practice for Crisis Management

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. A public health emergency of international concern, which caused a devastating impact on the travel industry as governments responded with lockdowns, quarantines, travel restrictions and border closures to contain the virus.


The cumulative impact had huge implications on the operational and financial resilience of many youth travel organisations, but particularly within the cultural exchange sector as participants tend to scatter around the world and many stakeholders are involved in the programmes. Parents, host families, agents and sponsors: all needed appropriate assistance.
Hearing all these stories and looking back on the huge efforts that these organisations have made in response to this crisis, the Cultural Exchange Panel concluded that there was still a lot to learn about crisis management and that sharing best practices would help fellow organisations improve their crisis preparedness and strengthen collaboration within the sector.

Cultural Exchange Best Practice Working Group

The Cultural Exchange Working Group was established in August 2020 with the aim of facilitating dialogue and enhancing collaboration between WYSE Members on the topic of international crisis management. The Working Group is committed to delivering best practice recommendations in order that businesses within the sector are in the best possible shape to withstand and effectively respond to a potential future crisis. Ideally this could form the basis for an International Crisis Task Force, broadly agreed with WYSE members and representatives of the Cultural Exchange Sector.

Members of the Working Group

Robyn Walker

Chair of the Working Group
Cenet, USA

Marina Seet


Iza Gyuricza

Mariapia Inurritegui

Rafael Espinoza

Alexis Blackburn-Rose

Laura Sukgen

Troy International,

Darya Modestova

Goals and achievements

February 2021

The WYSE webinar “Stronger together: Best practice for crisis management” was held to inform WYSE Members about the work of the Best Practice Working Group to date. A draft of the Best Practice Guide for Crisis Management was presented for review and discussion on how the practices can be implemented.

The Best Practice Guide for Crisis Management was formalised and is available for download here.

May 2021

A Code of Conduct with mandatory, best practice and voluntary compliance guidelines on crisis preparedness and mobilised response was formulated and announced at WETM-IAC Online.

June 2021

A disclaimer tool was provided for organisations to use as a reference document to educate and prepare programme participants for the possible consequences in case of another COVID-19 outbreak.

November 2021

A reminder GIF was created, outlining best practices on maintaining close relationships with local embassies.

Next steps

  1. Facilitate online discussions with the Cultural Exchange Sector
  2. Outline more best practice tools
  3. Develop a long-term approach to building relationships with embassies and (re)educate staff on the value of cultural exchange
  4. Create an organised task force at WYSTC (September 2022)
  5. Establish independent standards

Future steps will be to:

  • Create an associated communication platform where accurate crisis information can be shared
  • Develop a standardised training workshop

Code of Conduct

When the Best Practice Working Group took stock of how the Cultural Exchange sector had dealt with the outbreak of COVID-19, they found that there were still areas of improvement, particularly in the field of mutual cooperation.

In the belief that a new crisis can present itself anytime and from the conviction that there is always room for advancement, a Code of Conduct was drawn up, in addition to the Best Practice Guide for Crisis Management and regulating expected behaviour and their relation with fellow organisations.

The Code of Conduct contains compliance guidelines on crisis preparedness as well as the expected level of professionalism, collaboration, and communication in dealing with crisis situations.

By adhering to it, organisations will hold each other accountable for the quality of their crisis framework and agree to a number of core values. The signatories can also involve their partners in the effort to raise the bar on crisis management and live up to its promises.

The complete text of the Code of Conduct can be found here.
For any feedback or questions about the Code of Conduct, please send an email to members@wysetc.org


Robyn WalkerCenetUS
Carye DuffinCIEEUS
Iza GyuriczaSmaller Earth Group Ltd UK
Marina SeetSpeedwing Training (Asia) Pte LtdSingapore
Laura SukgenTroy InternationalTurkey
William GertzAIFSUS
Rafael EspinozaUSE, Universal Student ExchangePeru
Nick SteiertInvasionUK
Bettina WiedmannExperiment e.V.Germany
Zhanna Saparova Alliance AbroadUS
Tom AretonCHI, Cultural Homestay InternationalUS
Ana LeccaINTEJPeru
Wolfgang GraserGood Hope VolunteersSouth Africa
Daniel NicolsonCleversteam (Hanover)UK
Ashraf WaliEgyptian Student Travel ServicesEgypt
Francis AltenaThe Green LionThailand
Darya ModestovaGlobal Friends, IncUzbekistan
Danielle Brumfitt NorrisHI USAUS
Mark MaasdamTravel Active - Educational ExchangeThe Netherlands
Wendi AylwardAIFS (Australia)Australia
Jeff Laband Center for International Career DevelopmentUS
Alexis Blackburn-RoseInterExchange, IncUS


Promote your support of the Code of Conduct on your website, social media and email signature.

Best practice tool: Disclaimer for participants


One of the topics that the Best Practice Guide for Crisis Management refers to is managing expectations of participants, in order that they are well-informed and prepared before taking part in an international cultural exchange programme. The Disclaimer contains unified language, and we encourage organisations to take elements from it as needed to add to your own terms and conditions or as a resource for any other participant orientation.