20th meeting of the Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism

Report of the twentieth meeting of the

(ITB, Berlin, Germany, 9 March 2007)

Download a PDF of this report here in English and here in French (Please note that links to presentations within these PDFs may not function properly)

1. The Task Force to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation in Tourism held its twentieth meeting in Berlin on 9 March 2007, as part of parallel events held during ITB. The meeting, which was attended by over 100 delegates, featured a Special Session on Child Exploitation through Trafficking and its relationship with the Travel and Tourism Industry.

Tribute to Ms. Jacqueline de Rey

2. The Chairman of the Executive Committee (ExCom) of the Task Force, Dr. Dawid de Villiers opened the Task Force meeting with a short ceremony in memory of Ms. Jacqueline de Rey, Honorary Chairman of UFTAA and former Vice President of the Task Force, who had passed away on 9 February 2007. He reminded her main achievements during her long career in the travel and tourism industry. On behalf of ECPAT International, Mr. Luc Ferran underlined her intelligence and strong commitment for the protection of children, and expressed his gratitude for all she had done for the ECPAT network. Ms. Nicoll Chome, Deputy CEO of UFTAA, asked for a minute of silence in respect for her memory. Dr. de Villiers added that those who had worked with her had been enriched by her life and would be inspired by her example, and that she would remain in everyone’s memory forever.

Opening Remarks
3. Dr. de Villiers welcomed participants from 30 governments, 5 intergovernmental organizations, 2 international tourism organizations, 12 national associations and companies, 15 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), 3 educational institutions and 5 media participants.

4. The Chairman reminded that the Task Force had started as a partnership between the World Tourism Organization and ECPAT International, and that it was an open forum to present proactive programs, exchange views and share information on child protection issues. Since its first meeting ten years ago, the Task Force had built a powerful network across the world involving the public and private sector in the fight against SECT.

5. Subsequently, Dr. de Villiers gave the floor to the moderator of the special session, Ms. Chris Beddoe, Director ECPAT UK.

Special Session: Child Exploitation through Trafficking and its relationship with the Travel and Tourism Industry

6. Ms. Chris Beddoe, Director, ECPAT UK, reminded that there still was a long way to go in the field of protection of children from sexual exploitation. She remarked that, according to some public information obtained from the Internet, there was an inconsistency in the approach of child protection within the tourism industry, particularly across all the airlines. She also gave some examples that demonstrated the different airlines’ policies on unaccompanied minors. Presentation of Ms. Beddoe

7. Mr. Theo Noten, ECPAT Netherlands, mentioned that trafficking in human beings was a serious crime that many governments were trying to address seriously. He explained that it might be difficult to distinguish between smuggling and illegal migration and trafficking, because the person might start the journey as a migrant and end up in a trafficking situation and being exploited within the national borders or beyond. He reminded that the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) constituted a form of violence against children and a contemporary form of slavery, where the child was treated as a commercial object. There were many factors that make children vulnerable to child sex tourism, such as poverty, lack of opportunities for a better life, and weak child protection and welfare systems. There were also some other pull factors that provoked migration to tourism areas, such as the existence of unregulated prostitution, the demand for young persons as sexual objects and the involvement of organized crime. Mr. Noten remarked that this problem could only be addressed in a multistakeholder approach, with the full cooperation of governments, countries of destination and origin, and the travel industry and NGOs. The interest of a child should be a primary consideration in poverty reduction strategies within new tourism development projects. He remarked that a concerted and concentrated effort was needed in order to protect children from sexual exploitation everywhere.

8. Mr. Hans van de Glind, Senior Technical Officer, Focal Point on child trafficking, International Labor Organization (ILO IPEC), presented the concept of child trafficking from the labour perspective and the responses from the tourism and travel sector. The trafficking definition featured 3 components: (a) Some movement/transaction to unfamiliar territory, (b) the abuse at any stage of movement, and (c) a form of exploitation as a result. Some of the risk factors that make children vulnerable were lack of law enforcement and youth unemployment which originated their desire to migrate to the cities, most of them unprepared and uninformed. The tourism sector could take Corporate Social Responsibility in line with the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics in order to develop tourism policies that would not harm children and establish corporate policies against trafficking. Mr. Van de Glind presented an ecotourism project in a local community in Thailand as a good example and best practice of job creation to fight trafficking, where the ethnic minority children were highly vulnerable to migration and exploitation. The local people had organized home stay programmes for tourists allowing them to experience the culture and daily life in the community. This project, targeted to poor families most vulnerable to child trafficking, generated a substantial increase in the local income. Presentation of Mr. Van de Glind

9. Ms. Ina Jurasin, Project Officer, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), presented a project of public private cooperation in the prevention of trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Minors in Travel and Tourism Industry. The Code of Conduct for the tourism industry had been introduced as a prevention tool in the region of South Eastern Europe, and the four pilot countries selected were Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and Montenegro. It was important to raise awareness among stakeholders in order to strengthen the understanding of the Code as part of corporate social responsibility (CSR). She reminded that the impact of the Code would be limited if it was implemented alone, and that it should be coupled with other prevention and child protection efforts, such as awareness raising in other fields or education in schools. Ms. Jurasin informed about the status and project outcomes per country, where the lack of understanding and commitment of local tourism industry was identified as one of the common challenges. She finally recommended increasing the programmatic role of governing Code structures on international and national levels in order to strengthen the Code effectiveness. Presentation of Ms. Jurasin

10. Mr. Vincent Tournecuillert, Regional Child Protection Officer for South Eastern Europe, Terre des Hommes Foundation, presented a project related to the protection of children at risk of being trafficked in Athens on the occasion of the holding of the Olympics Games 2004. Several initiatives undertaken included the distribution of leaflets to travel agencies, the elaboration of a specific investigation on child sexual exploitation and the impact of the Games, and other initiatives done directly on the field with streetwork teams. The project found that the high security context of the Games had decreased the phenomenon of visible exploitation and trafficking of minors. The results of the project had been shared with the Police for minors and the Prosecutor for minors of Athens who had arrested a number of traffickers. He also informed that Greek and Albanian governments signed a specific Bilateral Agreement to prevent and protect children across their borders in February 2006. Among the lessons learned featured that these major events represented very good opportunities to raise child protection advocacy messages. Mr. Tournecuillert expected to set up a similar investigation for the Euro 2008 to be held in Switzerland and Austria. Finally, he said that different resources were needed to mobilize opinion, media and policy makers before, during and after the event. Presentation of Mr. Tournecuillert

Policy Session: Mandate of the Task Force and composition of the Executive Committee

11. The Chairman reported on the decision of the Executive Committee to broaden the mandate of the Task Force to include all forms of child exploitation in tourism. UNWTO as a UN specialized agency needed a broader agenda to include a broader perspective on the abuse of children. That would lead to include activities in other fields related to child protection. He also referred that the industry participation in the meetings had declined in the past years and if the subject was broader, many industries would get new enthusiasm back. It was agreed to rewrite the objectives of the Task Force to make clear that the sexual abuse would remain the main focus, but with a broader view to include other aspects that could lead to sexual abuse. The Task Force would remain an open forum in order to strengthen the network by bringing in more members to benefit everyone. The Task Force should be more proactive and should promote practical ways of dealing with these problems. The guiding principle is the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism which covers several dimensions on child exploitation. The decision to broaden the scope of the Task Force was necessary in order to allow the Executive Committee to be given the status and role of an Advisory Committee to the World Committee on Tourism Ethics.

12. Mr. Luc Ferran, on behalf of ECPAT International, reminded that they would continue their support with UNWTO, although their strong position and belief was that the focus of the Task Force should not be changed.

13. The Chairman then presented the proposed, provisional new structure of the extended Task Force, which was accepted by the participants. The composition of which is as follows:

  • CHAIRMAN …………………………… UNWTO
  • GOVERNMENTS (3 seats)
    Africa ……………………………………Senegal
    Americas ………………………………. Argentina
    Asia ……………………………………..Thailand
  • INDUSTRY (5 seats)
    Hotels ………………………………….. IH&RA
    TO / TA / business travel ………………UFTAA
    Airlines ………………………………… Air France
    Cruise lines ……………………………. -
    Other……………………………………. IUF (workers union)
    ECPAT International
    Terre des Hommes
  • MEDIA (2 seats)
    Electronic media ………………………. eTurboNews
    Printed media …………………………..

Reporting Session

Reports on actions/measures taken by governments and organizations

14. Mr. Federico Martínez Carrasco de Santiago, Community Involvement Manager, Sol Melia Hotels & Resorts, introduced some key figures of his company, the first hotel chain in Spain and in Latin America and Caribbean with more than 300 hotels around the world. Sol Melia was the first tourism company in Spain that signed the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism. The company’s corporate plan involved raising awareness of employees to prevent the abuse of children and training them on how to react when faced with the problem. After identifying some sensitive areas, the company carried out some of these activities in pilot hotels situated in Dominican Republic, Spain, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Cuba in 2006. Mr. Martínez Carrasco added that the plan would be reinforced in the rest of the chain’s hotels in 2007. The company issued a communication of their commitment as a legal clause to all suppliers, and also offered support to local key agents in order to conduct activities in this field. He indicated the need to draw a clear distinction with regard to the term “sexual tourism”, as the persons involved in this practice were not tourists but criminals. He concluded in highlighting the importance to have legal measures to fight the sexual exploitation of children.

15. Ms. Anita Dodds, Tourism Programme Manager of Child Wise Australia, gave an update of the actions undertaken by the 10 ASEAN countries, the Australian government and Child Wise Australia in the past 12 months in the region. She mentioned that, as the ministerial support had been growing over the past years all ASEAN tourism ministers had signed an agreement to work in partnership to prevent child sex tourism and to combat this practice at regional level. One of the main achievements in this regard was the launch of the ASEAN Regional Education Campaign, which constituted an example of an international best practice in addressing CST. Besides the financial support of Australia, the ASEAN countries were increasingly committing their own funds and encouraging the private sector to support initiatives to tackle the problem. The ASEAN Regional Taskforce meeting was also a good practical way to bring together tourism and law enforcement officials from every country, along with the participation of key stakeholders in order to strengthen the efforts in the region to protect children. Ms. Dodds presented a Regional Action Plan focused on escalating their action to protect children, which included the ASEAN ChildSex Tourism Review containing the current status of the problem within the region from the tourism and law enforcement perspective. She added that new materials were developed across the region, such as tent cards to be distributed in hotels, and a booklet containing information to prevent SECT, particularly useful for immigration and customs officials. Presentation of Ms. Dodds

16. Ms Mihiri Fernando, UNICEF Sri Lanka Consultant, reported on the actions undertaken by the Sri Lanka Tourism Board with the assistance of UNICEF in mobilizing the community and the police in combating CST in the country. She explained that the main challenge was to protect children from sexual abuse specifically from the tourists, both domestic and foreigners. The results of a study carried out to evaluate the attitude of school children, parents and guardians on CST showed that the knowledge on this issue was inadequate among communities. CST was a problem of the community linked with many social issues, such as lack of education, poverty, and family break. For this reason, it was important to encourage the active involvement in the planning and implementation process with a participatory approach at local level. Ms. Fernando said that several media materials were designed in the form of posters, bill boards, counter stands and advertisements. Although the Sri Lanka Police continued to play its traditional role in combating CST by ensuring that the law is enforced, it had been identified that they could have a wider role to play in combating CST. She underlined that the community expected the police to be a responsible community member providing the moral and legal support, and also to assist them in their activities. Finally, Ms. Fernando reminded that the ambition of the Sri Lanka Tourism Board was to make the community aware of the problem by supporting their mobilization as a powerful weapon to combat the exploitation of children. Presentation of Ms. Fernando

17. 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 recent developments of the Code, now represented in 27 countries and signed by more than 600 companies. She mentioned the various organizations that composed the Code Steering Committee responsible for designing actions to prevent child sex tourism in different tourism sectors. Ms. Tepelus 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 latest achievements involved the signature of the Code by the Swiss operator Kuoni International and by the Spanish leading companies Sol Meliá and Barceló Hotels & Resorts, in cooperation with ECPAT Spain. She also mentioned the on-going projects to strengthen the implementation of the Code in some countries of Eastern Europe with the support of OSCE. Finally, Ms. Tepelus reminded that the Code of Conduct was a voluntary project addressed to the tourism private sector providing them with a framework for action. Presentation of Ms. Tepelus

18. Finally, and with regard to the selection of the theme for the next Task Force meeting of November 2007, Dr. de Villiers presented two possible options: (a) misuse or exploitation of children in the tourism labour sector, and (b) successful strategies and good practices against child sexual exploitation in tourism. The second topic was selected by the participants.

Next meeting

19. After thanking participants for their attention and contributions to the meeting, the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Task Force, Dr. Dawid de Villiers announced that the twenty first meeting of the Task Force was scheduled to take place at WTM London, on 12 November 2007.

See also

  • Download a PDF  version in English (or in French) of the Report of the 20th meeting of the Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism (ITB, Berlin, Germany, 9 March 2007) (Please note that links to presentations are not accessible within these PDFs)


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