Tourism to fight child exploitation

taleb rifai

The 31st Meeting of the World Tourism Network on Child Protection, held on the occasion of ITB Berlin, focused on the role and initiatives of the private sector to fight Child Exploitation in tourism. Awareness raising, training of staff and the implementation of measures along the whole value chain of tourism were pointed out as critical. "We need to unite to fight child exploitation and the commitment of the private sector is key" said UNWTO Secretary-General opening the meeting.

At the meeting, the Chair of the High Level Global Task Force to End Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism, Najat Maalla M'jid, shared the first findings of the Global Study carried out by the Task Force. Lack of reporting, weak legislation and the anonymity of the Internet were pointed out as some of the main challenges in child protection from sexual exploitation in the sector. The report aims to also address the chronic lack of robust evidence and comparable data on this issue.

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) stressed the importance of providing training to the staff on how to identify possible situation of child exploitation as well as dealing with new emerging trends in the sector such as 'voluntourism' while the TUI Group shared their initiative 'A collective NO to sexual exploitation of children in holiday destinations initiatives to promote the inclusion of measures to prevent and fight the exploitation of children within the whole tourism value chain including actions on training, awareness raising among host communities.

Other initiatives presented included a project from the Network of Strategic and International Studies which evaluates best practices from around the world and work of the Airline Ambassadors International which focus on training airline professionals to flight human trafficking.

The World Tourism Network on Child Protection is an open-ended network facilitated by UNWTO featuring the multi-stakeholder participation of a range of tourism stakeholders – governments, international organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), tourism industry groups and media associations. Its mandate is to prevent all forms of youth exploitation in the tourism sector (i.e. sexual exploitation, child labour and child trafficking). The Network's meetings, held annually at the worlds' foremost Travel and Tourism Fairs, serve as a platform to exchange experiences and best practices, present awareness-raising materials and capacity building tools, and promote the adoption of professional codes of conduct or other responsible practices in line with the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.