17th meeting of the Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism

Report of the seventeenth meeting of the

(WTM, London, 14 November 2005)

Download a PDF of this report here (Please note that links to presentations within this PDF may not function properly)

1. The Task Force to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation in Tourism held its seventeenth meeting in London on 14 November 2005, as part of parallel events held during the World Travel Market (WTM 2005). The meeting, which was attended by over 60 delegates, featured a Special Session on Government Actions to Combat the Sexual Exploitation of Children in Tourism (SECT).

Opening Remarks

2. The Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Task Force, UNWTO Deputy Secretary-General Dr. Dawid de Villiers, opened the Task Force meeting by welcoming participants from twenty governments, five intergovernmental organizations, eight international or regional industry associations, seven national associations and companies, ten non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and four education institutions.

3. The Chairman mentioned the growing awareness of the Task Force as an open forum to exchange ideas and provide information on activities carried out to prevent and fight against SECT. He underlined the remarkable progress in the strengthening of this network since its establishment in 1997, notably in the number of participants attending the two regular annual meetings and in the countries that had developed initiatives to address the problem.

4. Moreover, Dr. de Villiers presented the major findings of the UNWTO Survey on the Implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism based on the information collected from Member States and Affiliate Members. He mentioned that nearly three-quarters of respondents had already incorporated the principles of the Code into their legislative texts or had used them as a basis when establishing national laws, regulations or tourism development plans. He also pointed out that the Code had been widely disseminated to tourism stakeholders and also translated by 35 countries into their respective national or local languages. As an example of its international recognition, he made reference to the Geotourism Charter established by National Geographic which adhered to the principles embodied in the Global Code of Ethics.

5. Finally, the Chairman presented a simplified version of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism entitled The Responsible Tourist and Traveller drafted by the Task Force and adopted by the World Committee on Tourism Ethics at its last meeting held in Tunis on May 2005. The aim of this new document was to make tourists aware of the principles stated in the Code of Ethics, in an user-friendly manner. Dr. de Villiers also mentioned that it would be published as an attractive leaflet and distributed to the travelling public through travel agencies, accommodation establishments and others.

Special Session: Government Actions to Combat the Sexual Exploitation of Children in Tourism

6. Mr. Sidney Alves Costa, Head of Cabinet of the Ministry of Tourism Brazil, presented the “Sustainable Tourism and Childhood” programme whose main objective was to exchange previous experiences and best practices on protecting children from sexual exploitation in tourism (SECT). The celebration of a seminar on this topic in the framework of the First World Tourism Forum for Peace and Sustainable Development in 2004 was one of the first steps. Other major outcomes were the implementation of an Action Plan and the development of a National Campaign called “Brazil. Love and protect it”, promoting a positive approach in key aspects such as the respect of national diversity, gender and sex issues, ethnic background and relationship between children and tourists. Mr. Alves Costa said that the respect of children’s rights was one of the main concerns of governments in the Americas, and that the Brazilian Ministry of Tourism held in 2005 the First Meeting of Ministers and High Authorities in Tourism of South America on the Prevention of SECT. At this meeting, participants agreed to establish a Regional Action Plan to promote cooperation in this field, as well as to create a regional Task Force to protect children following the example of the UNWTO International Task Force. Presentation of Mr. Alves Costa

7. Ms. Petra Cruz, Director for Europe of the State Secretariat for Tourism of the Dominican Republic, presented her country’s Campaign and National Plan of Action which included the design of an advertising campaign and the creation of an Inter-institutional Commission against the Commercial and Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Minors. The aim of this Commission is to propose, coordinate and promote measures against SECT that involve various tourism stakeholders and governmental bodies. She further gave an outline of the training programmes -based on the UNWTO Tourism Training Modules- which are addressed to tourism professionals and to staff of Dominican consulates and tourist boards in Europe. Some of the actions undertaken (viz. the publication of brochures and posters in different languages, and the distribution of tourist cards with warnings about the legal consequences of sexually exploiting minors) received technical and financial support from UNICEF, the Italian Foreign Ministry and the UNICEF German Committee. Finally, Ms. Cruz explained that the ads on TV and cinema as well as other training activities were supported at national level by the International Labour Organization and the Department of Labour of the United States. Presentation of Ms. Cruz

8. Ms. Diana Tamashiro, Domestic Tourism Manager of the Promotion Board of Peru (PROMPERU) reported on the National Campaign on Prevention of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth in Tourism carried out by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism. This project was supported by the Lombardia Region of Italy through the NGO CESVI, and by UNICEF which provided technical and financial assistance. She mentioned the training workshops held in Cusco, Trujillo and Iquitos aimed at local tourism students, hotel staff, travel agencies, guides, taxi and “mototaxi” drivers. A guide for suppliers of tourism services, “From Spectators to Actors”, and a trainer's guide were also published. The major actions of the campaign involved sensitising travellers through in-flight videos and disseminating brochures and posters to be displayed at airports and by travel agencies. Ms. Tamashiro also mentioned a regional initiative in Iquitos informing tourists, through ads, that the sexual exploitation of children is punishable by law. Presentation of Ms. Tamashiro

9. Mr. Prathap Ramanujam, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism of Sri Lanka, presented a project, supported by UNICEF, aimed at increasing community awareness in areas affected by Child Sex Tourism (CST), by means of ensuring that all tourists were aware of the tourism industry’s zero tolerance in this field. He reminded that it was also necessary to involve the private sector to play a proactive role and to bring in new policies, laws and regulations to combat this problem. Mr. Ramanujam mentioned that many District Child Protection Councils had been set up in tourist areas in order to improve the coordination and efforts with the police, social authorities, NGOs and other tourism stakeholders. He also reported on some actions that were being implemented, such as the preparation of modules on child rights to be made available to school students and the general public, also in Sinhala and Tamil language; the publishing of catalogues, brochures and advertisements against CST in different languages; and the development of an in-flight video and website. Finally, Mr. Ramanujam underlined that the Sri Lanka Tourist Board was committed to eradicate Child Sex Tourism in his country so that their children could live free from sexual abuse and exploitation. Report of Mr. Ramanujam

10. Ms. Anita Dodds, Tourism Programme Manager of Child Wise Australia, presented the ASEAN Regional Public Education Campaign which, with the support of the Australian Government, was being carried out jointly between the ten ASEAN Governments under the coordination of Child Wise Australia. She reminded that there had been 50 million visitor arrivals to the ASEAN region in 2004 representing the highest number of visitors on record, and that increasing tourism in these countries had always been matched with prevention and protection measures for children. Ms. Dodds also mentioned that the Australian Government action involved a wide range of ministries including AusAID -Agency for International Development-, Ministry of Justice and Customs and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In this regard, she said, the AusAID had provided financial assistance to Child Wise to facilitate the Campaign, whose objectives were: (a) to mobilize responsible travellers and local citizens to report suspicious behaviour; (b) to deter child sex offenders, and (c) to create a culture of intolerance to child sexual abuse. Ms. Dodds recognized that some countries had taken small actions to raise public awareness at national level but, so far, there had not been joint efforts across the region to combat SECT.

11. A professional, social marketing company named Grey Worldwide, who had significant experience in behaviour change campaigns, was selected for the production of the campaign. Under the overarching theme “Sex with children is a crime”, it was agreed that the campaign would cover two different audiences: (a) seven destination countries, targeting to local citizens, responsible tourists, expatriates, tourism industry and brothel patrons and, (b) three sending countries, addressing potential offenders, family and friends of suspected offenders and general public. According to the intention of making the campaign actionable, this project also involved the development of several reporting hotlines and the dissemination of stickers and posters translated into local languages which were placed in hotel rooms, internet cafes and photo shops. Ms. Dodds concluded that the Regional Campaign represented a good example of a partnership between eleven countries speaking with one voice to protect the tourism industry and to protect children from sexual exploitation in tourism. Presentation of Ms. Dodds

12. Mr. Ignacio Angulo Ranz, Assistant Deputy Director General for Cooperation and Tourism Coordination of the General Secretariat for Tourism of Spain, presented the Campaign “Without Excuses” designed by UNICEF Spanish Committee with the financial support of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and which was integrated in the National Action Plan against sexual commercial exploitation of children. He said that some of the actions included the organization of meetings with tour operators, airlines and other tourism stakeholders, the participation in professional training seminars, the display of inflight videos containing information on the campaign and the dissemination of a great number of posters, brochures and stickers. Mr. Angulo Ranz mentioned the Monographic meeting on Tourism of the Spanish Council of Ministers held in 2005, in which the National government had endorsed the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and had committed to its dissemination among the tourism industry in his country. Finally, he remarked that his government would prefer to discard the term “sexual tourism”, since any criminal activity should be separated from the term “tourism”, the latter being a legitimate activity that contributed to the economic development and mutual understanding among peoples and cultures around the world. Presentation of Mr. Angulo Ranz

13. Mr. Philippe Kaspi, Adviser to the Minister of Tourism of France, mentioned several actions undertaken by the French Government since it decided to intensify the fight against sexual exploitation of children in tourism in the last two years. A working group composed by representatives from several ministries, organizations, NGO´s and tourism companies had agreed to work on this issue in three main aspects: prevention, repression and international cooperation. He made reference to a Charter that had been signed between the Ministry of Tourism and the leading tourism companies in order to support the efforts of ECPAT France in implementing the Code of Conduct for the tourism industry. Furthermore, the Ministry of Tourism launched a proposal of a European Charter during the European Ministerial Meeting of Tourism in Malta that would enhance the actions started by the European Union in 1996. This French initiative would also include setting up an informal group with the participation of representatives of all Member States for the exchange of views and best practices as well as the development of an internal website with information on the situation in countries affected. Mr. Kaspi concluded that it was important to improve the international cooperation between receiving and sending countries and also to recognize that all stakeholders were involved in a long-lasting fight. French proposal against SECT

14. Ms. Angela Bähr, Project Director of the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) reported on the Study of the Code of Conduct for the Protection of children from sexual exploitation in Travel and Tourism within the Context of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, aimed at developing standards and implementation criteria for social sustainability in the tourism sector. The approach of this project included some recommendations for further action to build up a comprehensive concept of sustainability in tourism, comprising the protection of children’s rights. She explained that this report identified some deficiencies on the implementation of the Code of Conduct, such as the differences between companies in the use of capacity-building materials and handbooks in tourism and also an insufficient integration of the Code in hotel contracts. The findings of the Study showed that companies should use their own management system as a starting point in the implementation of social standards and that they should cooperate with governmental and non-governmental bodies. Finally, Ms. Bähr underlined that the priority of an implementation programme should be focused on the development of training activities involving train-the trainer modules for auditors, staff of tourism companies, contractors and subcontractors and staff in destination countries. Presentation of Ms. Bähr

Reporting Session:

Reports on actions/measures taken by governments and organizations

15. Mr. Yoshihisa Togo, Executive Director of UNICEF Japan Committee, reported on the situation of the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in his country. The activities carried out to tackle this problem involved the establishment of a pressure group for the ratification of the Convention of the Rights of the Child by the Japanese Government, as well as awareness raising by means of public events and seminars. He further mentioned five Stockholm follow-up meetings and three signature-collection campaigns advocating the Japanese Government to establish laws against commercial sexual exploitation of children and trafficking. Mr. Togo indicated that thousands of posters and leaflets on this issue had been distributed, and that his country had hosted the Second World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Yokohama in 2001. He recalled their collaboration in the revision of the Act on Punishment for Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking in Children for Sexual Purposes and on Protection and Care of Children in 2004. Finally, Mr. Togo reminded that the Code of Conduct was launched in Japan in 2005, and that it had been signed by major travel agencies and tour operators with the support of the Japan Association of Travel Agents which covered 90% of Japanese outbound tourism. Presentation of Mr. Togo

16. Ms. Camelia Tepelus, Secretariat Coordinator of the Steering Committee of the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism, informed about the latest developments of the Code, which was represented in 23 countries and in more than 250 companies. She explained the Code criteria which constituted a set of six practical measures to be adopted by the private sector (tour operators, travel agencies, hotels). Some of the achievements during 2005 involved the signature of the Code in countries situated in Central and Eastern Europe (Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and Serbia and Montenegro) with the support of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This effort in preventing the sexual exploitation of children in tourism had been joined by several travel associations and NGO´s. The Code was also launched in Cancun, Mexico, within the framework of an ECPAT USA project funded by the US State Department where hotel and travel agency associations developed training programmes to build local capacity in order to prevent child sex tourism. Finally, Ms. Tepelus explained the structure of the International Steering Committee composed by different stakeholders from the tourism industry, international organizations, governments and NGOs. Presentation of Ms. Tepelus

17. Mr. Chris Gould, Chief Superintendent of the Criminal Justice Department of the Avon and Somerset Constabulary in the United Kingdom, reported on Child Abuse within educational, cultural and language trips abroad. He introduced himself explaining that he was also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Child-Safe Charity aimed at protecting children and reducing crimes against children. The outcomes of several research projects that he conducted for many years showed that the sexual exploitation of children was not only a third world issue but it also happened in developed countries. He made reference to several US cases which prompted concern over exchange-student safety. The US Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students had reported that over 18 months, 33 foreign exchange students living in the US had declared having been raped or abused by members of their host families. Mr. Gould also found that from 2000 cases of abuse of children placed in homestays in 1998, only 1% had been reported to law enforcement agencies; the rest had been reported to tour operators, teachers or adults. No further action could, therefore, be taken and, consequently, there was a situation of under-reporting on this problem and very little information on the offenders.

18. Child-Safe Charity developed a website containing information on the different activities undertaken worldwide, and it published five books addressed to different audiences such as children, parents, host families, the voluntary sectors and schools. At national level, an Educational Visits Co-ordinator site focused on child protection issues was set up specifically for teachers in the UK who have a responsibility for sending young people across the world on different types of trips. Finally, Mr. Gould highlighted some main actions that should be considered to improve the protection and reduce the exploitation of children in travel and tourism: (a) raise awareness; (b) fund-raising for the Child-Safe Charity and, (c) lobbying the government to introduce a number of measures that would contribute to protect children. Presentation of Mr. Gould

19. Ms. Susanna Wilson, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager of First Choice Holidays informed participants about some of the lessons learned from developing and implementing a training programme on protecting children from sexual exploitation. First Choice is one of the four big tour operators in the UK. It made a public commitment with sustainable development by taking a responsible approach with the environment and the local communities in tourism destinations. Ms. Wilson mentioned that they were promoting sustainable leisure travel and also training staff on how and on where to report suspected incidents, by identifying the most appropriate local NGOs to report to, which in turn would liaise with local police. She referred to the various activities that First Choice had undertaken together with ECPAT in the last years. With the support of the UK Charity Travel Foundation, the tour operator further produced a number of country profiles related to the current situation of sexual exploitation of children in Cuba, Bulgaria, The Gambia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Mexico. Ms. Wilson stated that building local partnerships and networks with NGOs in tourism destinations would help preventing this practice in the future. Presentation of Ms. Wilson

20. Ms. Rosa Martha Brown, Chairperson of the International Federation of Associations of Executive Women in Tourism, said that the efforts of professional women in the travel industry were aimed at involving the trade in adopting social responsibility policies that would favour the adherence to a culture of protection of children’s rights. She further referred to activities against SECT accomplished by the Infantia Foundation in Mexico, which participated in different projects in partnership with national and international organizations (ILO, UNICEF, UNWTO, ECPAT, Accor) in Mexico and the National Secretariat of Labour. Ms. Brown mentioned that the launch of a national awareness-raising campaign involved the dissemination of almost two million brochures and leaflets in Mexico city and Cancun airports, and that a number of workshops and training activities were organized for the travel industry, universities, unions and employees of the private sector in the framework of the International Program of Eliminating Child Labour (IPEC/ILO). Finally, Ms. Brown recognized that the creation of alliances between tourism stakeholders and the other sectors of society would improve the chances of children to live in dignity. Presentation of Ms. Brown

21. At the end of the session, Ms Jacqueline de Rey, Honorary President of UFTAA, and Mr. Prathap Ramanujam, Permanent Secretary for Tourism of Sri Lanka, expressed their gratitude to UNWTO Deputy Secretary-General, Dr. Dawid de Villiers, for guiding the work of the Task Force during the last eight years. Because of his outstanding chairmanship, both members would propose and support Dr. de Villiers’ continuity as Chairman of the Task Force beyond the mandate of the latter at UNWTO, due to come to an end in December 2005. After thanking the members for their kind words, Dr. de Villiers reminded the participants that it was up to the Secretary-General to designate the next Chairman of the Task Force.

Next meeting

22. The Coordinator of the Task Force, Ms. Marina Diotallevi, announced that the eighteenth meeting of the Task Force was scheduled to take place at ITB Berlin, on 10 March 2006.


See also

  • Download a PDF of the Report of the 17th meeting of the Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism (London, 14 November 2005) (Please note that links to presentations are not accessible within this PDF)


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