22nd meeting of the Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism
Report of the twenty-second meeting of the
FOR THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN IN TOURISM
(ITB Fair, Berlin, Germany, 7 March 2008)
1. The Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism held its twenty-second meeting in Berlin on 7 March 2008, as part of the parallel events held during ITB. The meeting, which was attended by over 80 delegates, featured a Special Session on Practical responses by the tourism industry to empower minors by providing them with decent opportunities.
2. The Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Task Force Dr. Dawid de Villiers opened the Task Force meeting by welcoming participants from 24 governments, five intergovernmental organizations, six international and regional tourism organizations, 12 national tourism associations and companies, 22 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), three educational institutions and one media representative.
3. The Chairman underlined the strong participation at the meeting, notably the presence of five Ministers of Tourism and other high level representatives as well as a great variety of delegates from the tourism sector and NGOs. Dr. de Villiers reminded that the number of participants at the Task Force had constantly grown since its establishment in 1997. During those years, a strong network of cooperation had been created and a lot of information had been spread about the protection of children in tourism. That process had led to a much better understanding of the problem worldwide.
4. Dr. de Villiers introduced the theme of the Special Session: Practical responses by the tourism industry to empower minors by providing them with decent opportunities. He explained that the topic was linked to the fact that protecting children also meant offering young people from poor regions and communities an alternative to poverty or exploitation, by providing them with decent training and job opportunities for their empowerment. The Chairman said that the speakers of the Special Session would illustrate the subject through case studies and best practices.
Special Session: Practical Responses by the Tourism Industry to Empower Minors by Providing them with Decent Opportunities
5. H.E. Ms. Maha Khatib, Minister of Tourism & Antiquities of Jordan, mentioned her experience in development issues, in particular her work with the Jordan River Foundation, the biggest Jordanian NGO, and the first one in the Arab world, to address problems related to child abuse. Stressing the importance of including local communities in tourism in order to develop their economic potential, Ms. Khatib declared that the Foundation had started the Youth Career Initiative (YCI) in her country two years ago, in collaboration with the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF). This project was being implemented in the Middle East region for the first time and consisted of an educational and an employability programme dedicated to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who were unable to continue their studies.
6. The YCI involved intensive theoretical and practical training courses conducted by the management team from the biggest hotel chains of the world. In Jordan, the initiative started in Amman and lasted for 20 weeks, changing the lives of 13 young people who learned skills and developed abilities. The role of the Jordan River Foundation in the program was to coordinate the communities from which the young people and the hotels were selected. Mrs. Khatib underlined the importance of integrating local people in order to make it understandable that tourism would bring opportunities and jobs to them and their families. The latter had also the opportunity to visit the hotels and learn about the activities being undertaken, which led to a much more positive impact. Finally, she added that the YCI could contribute to the sustainable development of local communities who would be positively affected by the tourism activity. Presentation of H.E. Minister Khatib
7. Mr. Andrew Jones, Guardian of Sanctuary Resorts (Hong Kong) recalled his longstanding collaboration with the Task Force and stated that companies had increasingly been involved in the fight against the abuse of children. He considered, on one hand, private-public cooperation and the balance between business and community, on the other, as two important and fundamental concepts. Mr. Jones reported on the “Shinta Mani” hotel located in Cambodia and which provided 9-month trainings for young Cambodians who were selected from within the most “at risk” local kids. He subsequently made reference to several case studies: (a) the Nihiwatu Resort, located in Sumba, Indonesia, which provided training for local kids; (b) KOTO, which was a youth restaurant training programme in Vietnam, and (c) the KELY Support Group, a non-governmental charity organization that provided services to young people in Hong-Kong. The latter initiative would also be introduced in Macau and in India. Presentation of Mr. Jones
8. Mr. Jeffrey Pyne, Vice-President of Sandals Resorts International (Jamaica), informed about the “Sandals Flanker Start Training Programme” aimed at people living in rural communities and who were looking for a job. The programme started with very simple lessons as the level of education of the trainees was very low, but it the continued with specific trainings and the persons’ integration at work. He pointed out to the success of the initiative and the increase over the years of the number of participants. He also thanked the trainees for
communicating their good experience to their relatives and friends. Mr. Pyne mentioned that the Government of Jamaica had recognized the efficiency of the project and expressed its interest to take it as the base for the National Training Programmes. This had led to cooperation with the organization in charge of tourism training at national level so that certificates could be issued to those who had been trained at the resort. Mr. Pyne expected that his company would set up similar training programmes also in other areas where the company was settled. See more on Sandals Flanker Start Training Programme
9. Ms. Elizabeth Bahía, Coordinator of Sustainable Tourism and Childhood, Ministry of Tourism Brazil, presented a special pilot project on social inclusion which included a capacity-building component for young Brazilians. The programme was being implemented in Fortaleza in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism of the State of Ceará, the city of Fortaleza and the Brazilian Hotel Industry Association (ABIH). Ms. Bahía said that the programme’s objective was training and preparing poor young people between 16 and 26 years of age to occupy positions in the tourism sector. The project included three phases: (a) contacting hotels to understand which positions were needed, (b) identifying social associations that could help in the selection of people, as well as (c) institutions providing training on specific subjects. She spoke about the criteria of application and selection of candidates, and said that the initiative would also be implemented in other cities in Brazil. Presentation of Ms. Bahía
10. At the end of the special session, Mr. Giorgio Berardi, Programme Officer, ECPAT International, gave a brief outline of the preparations of World Congress III against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 25-28 November 2008. He said that the provisional content areas of the sessions would be: (a) Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, (b) Legal framework and enforcement, (c) Intersector coordination for integrated policies, (d) Private sector initiatives, and (e) Strategies for
bilateral and international cooperation.
11. With regard to the selection of the theme for the next Task Force meeting of November 2008, Dr. de Villiers presented two possible options: (a) Private-public sector cooperation to prevent the exploitation of children, or (b) Addressing the exploitation of minors in Eastern European countries. The first topic was selected by participants.
12. Dr. Sasithara Pichaichannarong, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of Thailand reported on the Greater Mekong Sub-Region cooperation for the prevention of trafficking and exploitation of children in tourism. She made reference to a Regional Seminar organized in Bangkok in November 2007 which had involved the discussion on new programs and initiatives in the countries of that area, i.e. Cambodia, Laos PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the two Chinese provinces of Quangxi and Yunnan. The representatives had agreed to implement strategies at regional and national levels and to connect national and regional registries of child sex offenders to facilitate the exchange of information. Dr. Pichaichannarong underlined that the six countries had further signed a letter of intent in order to strengthen national law enforcement and cross-border cooperation, as well as to promote active engagement efforts through a multi-stakeholder approach. Presentation of Dr. Pichaichannarong
13. Mr. Chris Gould, Founder and Chief Executive of ChildSafe UK, informed that the main objective of his charity was to collect data from victims and offenders which could be used for research by specific institutions. He made reference to the “Get Savvy” initiative aimed at supporting foreign tour and travel companies when sending young people abroad, particularly to the UK. Moreover, in order to illustrate the abuse that may affect children and young people engaged in international educational, cultural and language trips abroad, Mr. Gould showed several of such cases that had reached the media. He underlined that his charity was endorsed by several organizations within the United Kingdom, such as the Home Office, the Department for Children and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as well as numerous language schools, tour operators and EU funded programs. Finally, Mr. Gould presented the website of Child-Safe and several activities his organization had carried out over the years. Presentation of Mr. Gould
14. Mr. Mark Turgesen, Program Coordinator, ChildSafe International Network, explained that the network was managed by Friends International whose philosophy was built on protecting urban vulnerable children and youth from all forms of abuse. Its aim was also to influence society in order to provide supportive environments and adopt positive behaviour changes. He said that the main focus of ChildSafe’s activities was the child; but they also took into account families, communities and the society as a whole. The protection network reached around 26.000 children and youth in 4 cities in Cambodia. Over 900 people were trained, including hotel staff and taxi drivers. Mr Turgesen further presented the ChildSafe Center and the ChildSafe Hotline as tools that promoted the network and supported the activities of its members. Finally, he remarked that the diversity of the partners enabled ChildSafe to strengthen its message to tourists and that the involvement of the community reduced opportunities for vulnerable children and youth to be trafficked. Presentation of Mr. Turgesen
15. Ms. Kristine Zeuthen Jeppesen, Program Manager, Save the Children Denmark, reported on the launching of the campaign “Stop Child Sex Tourism” aimed at raising awareness of Danes travelling abroad. The initiative was financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Danish State Police, Save the Children, SAS and Danish Travel Agencies. She explained that the campaign included the display of advertisements and posters containing information on a new hotline telephone number, as well as the publication in the newspapers of articles against Danish Sex Offenders and several television interviews with the Minister of Justice. Save the Children Denmark would implement a project on protecting children against sexual exploitation in Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. The project would include a mapping of the modus operandi of Danish travelling sex offenders and develop different programs for each country. Presentation of Ms. Jeppesen
16. Ms. Rosa Martha Brown, President of the Infantia Foundation (Mexico), reminded that a joint and coordinated effort with the private sector would contribute to generate procedures to prevent and eradicate the exploitation of children in tourism. She mentioned that the target objective of her organization involved a wide variety of stakeholders, such as enterprises, professionals, schools and universities, religious groups and unions. The Foundation worked closely with the second largest confederation of workers’ unions in Mexico, including the National Union of Workers of the Tourism, Gastronomic and Hotel Union. She underlined that several awareness workshops and courses were conducted for workers and union leaders. Moreover, Ms Brown informed that the Youth Career Initiative program had started in her country and was carried out in collaboration with three important five-star hotels, where 20 young people had received training so far. Most of them continued at the hotels as employees. The program would be implemented in other areas of Mexico. Presentation of Ms. Brown
17. Mr. Yoshihisa Togo, Vice-Chairman of UNICEF Japan Committee, underlined the cooperation with the Japanese government in order to create specific laws for the protection of children and for the penalization of offenders. He reminded that although the law of many countries had fortunately changed during the past years, it was necessary to cooperate more closely with governments to improve legal framework, in particular as referred to new aspects such as the use of the internet. Moreover, Mr. Togo informed that the UNICEF Japan Committee was collaborating in the organization of the World Congress III against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in November 2008. Japan Appeal and Code of Conduct update
18. Ms. Shahinoor Visram, Managing Trustee, Sun and Sand Beach Resort (Kenya), explained that the mission of her company was to provide ultimate care and comfort to the guests and to look after the wellness of the staff and enhance the quality of life of the community around. She made reference to several initiatives which were implemented to improve living conditions, such as the provision of safe water, the establishment of a health clinic, a worship place and a nursery school as well as a community centre which was also accessible for people living in the surroundings. In the field of ecotourism, the Resort recycled the organic waste reducing the use of non-renewable energies and adopting a treatment for the sewage waters. Ms. Visram informed that her company was supporting Kikambala Primary School where over 60 children had been sponsored to attend secondary education. She underlined that the Sun and Sand Resort was one of the first resorts that had signed the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children against Sexual exploitation in Travel and Tourism, which led to the organization of training courses for employees and to the launching of an awareness campaign, which included posters and stickers posted inside and outside the resort.
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-third meeting of the Task Force was scheduled to take place at WTM London, on 10 November 2008.
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