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International summit will call on states and business to protect children in travel and tourism

International summit will call on states and business to protect children in travel and tourism

An international summit will take place on June 6 and 7, 2018 in Ágora Bogotá Convention Center: Bogotá DC, Colombia, to address the exploitation of children in travel and tourism. Increasing interconnectivity and cheaper travel has created enormous opportunities – but at a price.

Despite global efforts, the last two decades have seen an increase in the sexual exploitation of children. Much of this increase is associated with traveling child sex offenders, who often take advantage of poverty, a culture of impunity, weak laws and a lack of police capacity to harm children. The sexual exploitation of children causes long-term physical and emotional damage, harms communities, cheapens cultures and threatens national efforts to escape poverty.

Urgent action is needed in all countries to better protect children from traveling child sex offenders.

The sexual exploitation of children is often facilitated through tourist hotels, bars and restaurants – and offenders frequently avail themselves of the services of the travel industry to exploit children. This puts the travel and tourism sector in a unique position to work towards protecting children and ending this crime.

The International Summit on Child Protection in Travel and Tourism will bring together world leaders, the UN; governments; travel agents, tour operators, hotels and other travel businesses; technology and booking companies; police; international NGOs; and civil society organizations. Over two days they will discuss how to better protect children, prevent abuse from happening and catch those committing this crime.

Possible leads/stories that may emerge from discussions with participants at the summit:

• Interview opportunities with government and business leaders in this field;

• Stories that show what businesses and governments plan to do to, or have failed to achieve in preventing the sexual exploitation of children – especially in light of upcoming mega tourism events;

• Techniques and approaches that have worked in protecting children and catching offenders;

• Businesses and governments may pledge to sign the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, which includes binding commitments to end the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism;

• Specific travel businesses (see list of participants) may pledge to adopt corporate policies against the sexual exploitation of children, which may include training on prevention and responding for travel and tourism professionals;

• Governments and law enforcement agencies may pledge to increase efforts to catch traveling child sex offenders, particularly through transnational laws;

• Businesses may pledge to crack down on voluntourism practices, particularly in orphanages, that do not guarantee the safety of children; and

• Efforts may be made to increase awareness of the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism, especially among markets that are an emerging source of tourists.

Colombian Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, María Lorena Gutiérrez, summit host, said: “Colombia, as a member of the GARA Child Protection Action Group for the Americas, is strongly enforcing laws and Responsible Tourism codes amongst our industry, because we understand that we are all -states, business and citizens- the main warrantors of our children´s rights. We cannot turn our heads in another direction. This first Summit in his kind will be an exceptional opportunity to learn and share what’s been done around the world to fight this terrible crime”.

Helen Marano, EVP, External Affairs, WTTC, commented: “WTTC is proud to support the International Summit on Child Protection. Serving on the Task Force allows WTTC the opportunity to is serving on the Task Force as well to mobilize the strength of the Council as it is vital to engage the private sector as we work collaboratively in combatting this challenge.”