Child protection and tourism – what is the industry’s responsibility?

the code child protection and tourism

Of course tourism has a role in child protection, but it depends how we understand responsibility. A legal interpretation would result in a narrower understanding of what an hotelier, tour operator or guide might be held accountable for in court.  If we mean by taking responsibility the willingness to do what we can to prevent evil or the obligation not to turn a blind eye then the child protection and  tourism agenda is much broader.

There is in many jurisdictions legislation on child sex tourism and trafficking. ECPAT has been very successful in raising awareness and encouraging governments and others to take action. It has campaigned to End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes. ECPAT International now has 80 groups in over 70 countries. ECPAT also has a button on their website where anyone can report their concerns – use it if you have cause for concern.

code child protection and tourismThe Code is an industry driven responsible child protection and  tourism initiative tackling the sexual exploitation of children in travel & tourism. It is co-funded by the Swiss Government (SECO) and by the tourism private sector and supported by the ECPAT International network, advisory partners include UNICEF and UNWTO. Child sex tourism and trafficking are important issues and there is still a great deal to be done to put an end to these abuses of children.

Legislation in originating markets now makes it possible for sex offenders to be prosecuted for criminal behaviour abroad and tour operators and hoteliers have a duty of care for the health and safety of children. Operators now carry out Criminal Records Bureau checks on staff working with children and vulnerable adults as should companies and organisations offering volunteering. Anyone wishing to look into issues to do with volunteering and tourism should start at people and places website, a responsible tourism volunteering organisation run by Sallie Grayson.

child protection and tourism

Campaigns around child protection and tourism by groups like the Child Safe network have raised awareness within the industry about the range of issues which need to be addressed from taking or encouraging tourists to visit orphanages which may have “purchased” children to the unintended consequences of giving sweets or money to children. Those unintended, but damaging consequences, include encouraging children to miss school and their parents to exploit them. Organising child begging can be a lucrative business.

As the ChildSafe network points out: “all children are vulnerable to accidents, abuse, neglect and/or crime. Some children already face such abuses in their daily lives: street children, working children, children forced into prostitution, children using drugs, etc. There are an estimated 500 million children living on the margins of society across the world.”

At WTM this year the panel on child protection and  tourism will be discussing the challenges faced by the industry and what our responsibilities; and answering your questions.

Taking Responsibility for Child Protection
South Gallery SG 21+22 13.30 – 14.30

In 2011 the issue of internal trafficking and orphanage tourism was raised during one of the panels. Last year we looked at the scale of the problem: trafficking, orphanages and the challenges which arise among the families travelling outbound. It is clear that there are still many problems. This year we have four panellists talking about what they are doing to tackle the challenges around child protection and tourism.
If you have time to browse

Chairperson Mark Tazner, Chief Executuve, ABTA

1. Stephanie Ossenbach, Project Manager Corporate Responsibility, Kuoni
2. Bharti Patel, Chief Executive Officer, ECPAT UK
3. Amanda Read & Karen Tatom, UK Border Force
4. Krissy Roe,

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Harold is Professor of Responsible Tourism at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he teaches and researches in the Centre for Responsible Tourism. Harold researches on tourism, local economic development and poverty reduction, conservation and responsible tourism and teaches Masters and PhD students. as well as the industry, local communities, governments, and conservationists. Harold also undertakes consultancy and evaluations for companies, NGOs, governments, and international organisations. He is also a Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism which he founded in 2002 and which promotes the principles of the Cape Town Declaration.

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