29th Meeting of the World Tourism Network on Child Protection
The World Tourism Network on Child Protection convened for its 29th meeting on the 7th of March 2014 in the context of the ITB Berlin International Tourism Fair. With a view towards exchanging information, experiences and best practices on the protection of children in tourism, the Network operates as a global platform of the sector’s key-players, drawing together governments, the tourism industry, international organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and media associations.
The central focus of the Network's 29th meeting was a special session on “Media Partnership in the Protection of Children in Travel and Tourism”. The meeting further featured a reporting session, affording representatives of national tourism authorities, the tourism industry, NGOs and specialised media outlets an opportunity to report on new projects concerning child protection in tourism.
29th Meeting of the
World Tourism Network on Child Protection
(formerly the Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism)
(ITB, Berlin, Germany, 7 March 2014)
The World Tourism Network on Child Protection held its 29th Meeting in Berlin on 7 March 2014, under the theme Media Partnership in the Protection of Children in Travel and Tourism. Attended by around 70 delegates, the event featured a Special Session by a group of panellists from media sector which was followed by a debate and thereafter a Reporting Session wherein representatives of governments, international organisations, the tourism industry, and NGOs gave a first-hand account of their activities in the field of Child Protection in travel and tourism.
Mr Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), welcomed the guests and expressed his delight at seeing some new faces at this year’s conference that will further rejuvenate this network. He shared that UNWTO had compiled a booklet of good practices in tourism with excerpts from a collection of more than 100 interventions of this platform on child protection in a span of past 15 years of its consecutive meetings. He noted that 2 years back, we achieved the milestone of 1 billion tourists crossing international borders annually. As far as domestic travel is concerned, it stands at some 6 billion tourists per year. He underlined that these 1 billion international tourists may bring a billion opportunities and a billion disasters alike. And by 2030 we’re going to witness a 3.4% rise in this number globally. Therefore, it’s implicit that we implement the UN Charter and the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism in their true spirit with a greater synergy with the World Committee on Tourism Ethics. He commended the huge success of the anti-trafficking campaign ‘Your Actions Count’ that was launched under the aegis of the UNWTO, UNODC and UNESCO. Media as a tool, he said, can perhaps achieve in one year what we alone would require 10 years. TV programmes such as the Freedom Project have proved to be very efficient in changing the way people think. We must establish a special partnership with our media friends because the more we are heard by the media, the better our case becomes. After Mr Taleb Rifai, Mr John Bell set the scene.
Mr John Bell, a Travel Journalist and Writer, stressed upon the enormity of the challenge related to child protection. Using the analogy of a mammoth that one may be asked to eat up, he confessed that so much is the vastness of the problem that even an eternally optimist person like him finds himself in deep pessimism after learning that even the church is no longer immune to it. Substantiating his claim, he elaborated that in 2011, some 250,000 cases of criminal child abuses were registered in Brazil. Likewise, as ECPAT quotes, 2 million child abuses were registered worldwide as per ILO records. That makes it equivalent to 24 full capacity football stadia filled with children. He blamed the lack of collective effort and coordination among different parties for such an appalling trend of child abuse. Sometimes, the journalists have to annoy other stakeholders by reporting such abuses in the media. He defended his contribution as a journalist by affirming that journalists are the essential vehicles of change who ‘talk their way out of the burning hotels and crashing planes’ without any ulterior motives for cheap publicity. He also cautioned that child abuse is not confined to the areas of tourism; rather it transcends all boundaries in today’s age of technological advancement and webcams. Fortunately the NGOs and the journalists have a moral courage quotient that enables them to keep going in their fight against child abuse despite poor salaries. Hopefully, this courage quotient will keep him ‘motivated to at least have a few bites at the mammoth’s ear, if not to swallow the whole of it’, he concluded.
Media Partnership in the
Protection of Children in Travel and Tourism
Prof Mike Jempson, Senior Lecturer of Journalism at University of West England and Director of MediaWise, lamented the lack of training facilities in child abuse, conflict of interest within the professionals of tourism sector, sprawling number of tourism websites and male chauvinism among the principle challenges facing the fight against child exploitation in tourism industry. He illustrated that in some male-dominated societies such as in some parts of India, there are websites that openly attract tourists for sexual tourism destinations such as Amsterdam, Thailand, Costa Rica, Kenya and Japan. Such websites cut all journalists out of the picture thereby making the children more prone to sex abuse. No wonder then that 50% of his students prefer pursuing Travel Journalism as a profession with such a sprawling number of tourism related websites and increasing number of tourists every year. To make the problem worse, sometimes there’s a conflict of interest within the professionals. Once he had to face local journalists’ demonstration while imparting training in Prevention of Sexual Exploitation of Children in Subic Bay area of Philippines. The journalists in question were earning their bread by publishing stories on tourism agencies and politicians responsible for issuing licences to bars from where tourists would pick the girls. He expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that it’s usually the women who are sent to participate in training programmes on child abuse, whereas the men are usually assigned the task of covering matters identified with manhood such as political or sport events.
Ms Sandy Dhuyvetter, Executive Producer and Host of TravelTalkRADIO and BusinessTravelRADIO (USA), talked about the challenges faced by her while organizing trainings for airport staff, volunteers and government officials in recognizing and reporting cases of child trafficking at airports, bus stops and train stations etc. With a reach in 185 countries, she affirmed that her Radio programmes engage experts from NGOs such as ECPAT, DHS and Polaris in order to spread awareness about human trafficking in tourism sector. She raised eyebrows at the extra attention the world media recently showered upon a diplomat who was charged for human trafficking and forced labour of her domestic worker thereby simply ignoring the plight of the affected servant. As a Board Member of Airline Ambassadors International, she asserted that she has imparted human trafficking trainings to more than 100 flight attendants in around 20 airports. She then gave the floor to other speakers.
Mr Jürgen Steinmetz, Publisher and President at eTurboNews (USA), expressed optimism that an ethical media can surely be profitable. The key here lies in co-operating with the tourism boards. This partnership could be of mutual interest since the media also serves as an advertising partner of the tourism industry. Although some protectionist government officials in various tourism ministries would hardly recognise that there’re trafficking related discrepancies in their states, they would love to look into it if we somehow convinced them about the same. When the tourism industry and governments appear insensitive, the key lies in seeking their co-operation and convincing them for an active discussion without jeopardising their business interests. He admitted that in this sense there is a love-hate relationship between the media and tourism stakeholders, and UNWTO can indeed play a big role here. He claimed that in the long run it’ll be good for the businesses as well, if they weed out the breeding grounds of child exploitation in co-operation with the media sector’s activism in exposing such incidents.
Ms Nele Obermüller, a Freelance Journalist and Writer, pointed out that one of the biggest challenges of a travel journalist is to face the question, “Why is it being reported now?” The stakeholders in tourism industry take the negative news reports as a challenge and direct attack on their integrity. Therefore, the need of the hour is to establish a trustworthy relation between the media and tourism stakeholders.
The Moderator, Mr Marcelo Risi, Senior Media Officer at UNWTO, raised the question as to how far the media should partner with the Tourism sector. Replying to this question, Mr John Bell came out in favour of a campaigning role of the media rather than fully partnering with the travel industry. During the debate, it emerged that the media needs to limit itself to the role of an annoying, albeit accountable, partner.
Prof Mike Jempson came up with his 3-pronged strategy.
The journalists must maintain their integrity and independence. Once they become agents of tourism agencies, they lose their identity as a journalist. More and more young journalists are venturing into the travel journalism profession. It’s high time we incorporated investigative journalism into the field of travel journalism.
The reputed and prestigious tourism organisations should unite hands and come up with instituting a system of bursaries. It could hire budding journalists to undergo internships and report cases of child abuse. It’ll work as deterrence toward eliminating exploitation in tourism industry.
There should be an award dedicated for travel journalists who take on the malpractices in tourism, particularly those adding to human suffering and exploitation.
Thereafter, the panel entered into another round of discussion on whether or not a Socially Responsible Travel Award be instituted for travel journalists. To this, the majority of the panellists were in favour of except Mr Jürgen Steinmetz who said such an award is not a good idea as it’ll lead to a competitive race among journalists that could adversely affect ties with our stakeholders in tourism. He preferred a system of checks and balances in which the media knows its limits in merely identifying such malpractices so as to awaken or caution the tourism industry to take necessary steps. He reiterated that the media should play a balancing role since there’s no point in losing all our friends. Just as it’s important to reach more readers, it’s equally important to get revenues as long as it doesn’t compromise with the fundamental right against exploitation. A downtown hotel haunted by pimps in Moldova or Latvia doesn’t call for breaking news coverage by the mainstream media. Such events should be discouraged and dealt with firmly at your personal level as a responsible and aware citizen.
Mr Marcelo Risi thanked the speakers and opened the floor to questions from the audience.
Mr Stephen Farrant, Director of International Tourism Partnership, wondered what type of news stories should have preference in news media in order to get ourselves into our strides: the good one or the bad one. Is it the isolated success story or the underlying negative story that should attract more attention?
Ms Sandy Dhuyvetter replied that it could be quite a nightmare to market your idea with the private companies concerning the tourism sector. She illustrated that the airports she worked with were wary of a partnership due to concerns that they might be sued if somebody saw something objectionable during her training programme on sensitising the airport staff on child abuse. She finally had had to engage market leaders such as Delta and United who braved to come forward to share the pedestal.
Ms Nele Obermüller said that from 2003 to 2006, there’s been a 20% rise in Child Trafficking as per a UNODC report. It suggests that child abuse is far from over in the near future and requires more attention. Commending the CNN’s Freedom Project that aims at ending modern-day slavery, she claimed that journalists, by virtue of their job, are quite qualified at seeing the underlying patterns of identical news stories based on a whole range of topics such as exploitation, poverty, sex workers etc. And this efficiency enables them to use their discretion on judging which news to publish and which not. She recalled the Guardian’s good coverage of underpaid tea workers in India.
When the Moderator rephrased the same question and asked as to what should be the determining criteria on whether to publish a story on child abuse, Mr John Bell contended that good news don’t really make it to the news pages unless they come as an afterthought. For example, no one published that Sun & Sand, a Kenyan hotel, was looking after 800 kids. Then he also underlined the reticent behaviour of Kenyan authorities in the face of prostitution rackets being run there.
Mr Jürgen Steinmetz added that any development that’s worthy of emulating or is potentially replicable in other places deserves publication in the news media. Likewise, rescue operations, arrests, executive order on removal of pornographic TV channels from hotel premises or any matter involving cooperation between the Police and Hotel industry shall attract media attention. He recalled that when the authorities in Belfast categorised its hotels into smoking and non-smoking ones, it ignited huge media attention and thereafter even the hotel industry in Tel Aviv followed suit.
Then the Moderator asked everyone about their take on how UNWTO as a neutral inter-governmental body could contribute more in the field of child protection.
Mr Marcus Bauer, Travel Journalist at Respontour Media Network, tried to urge UNWTO to be more bold and avoid being entirely neutral. To this, Mr John Bell affirmed that UNWTO is not the Security Council and we cannot expect it to be the world’s policeman. Although all the countries equally vouch for child protection, UNWTO shouldn’t be expected to put behind bars all those who are found guilty of sexual exploitation of children. At this point the delegation from the Government of Georgia congratulated and thanked UNWTO for its inspiring efforts toward child protection across the world. Ms Salome Tripolski, the Head of Development and Planning at Georgian National Tourism Authority, shared that her government has come up with a helpline number where all such cases of child abuse could be reported in order to ensure a timely action.
Mr Theo Noten, Programme Manager at ECPAT Netherlands, wanted to know how UNWTO could tackle the issue of child exploitation in Kenya. Addressing this question, Mr John Bell continued that since we no more live in the age of stringers, we should rely on the local press in Kenya which is doing a fantastic job. He further elaborated that the journalists these days are under immense workload so much so that even the BBC counts with only 94 foreign correspondents for its news published in 27 languages. Maybe we should be having newspaper owners here instead of their representatives, he deplored.
Ms Sandy Dhuyvetter pointed out that internet has emerged as a great neutraliser. So even a naïve journalist can publish a good news story online and within a moment it can go viral. Mr Mike Jempson added that the social media can indeed play a big role here. UNWTO could also publish such stories on Twitter and keep in touch with all the signatories of its flagship Code of Ethics for Tourism for necessary follow-up on a regular basis. He lamented that the mainstream media has a dearth of outstanding and ethical journalists as most of them are mainly trained in handling ‘machines’ such as the camera and other related technology used in media houses.
Ms Astrid Winkler, Managing Director at ECPAT Austria, strongly backed the question raised earlier by her colleague Mr Theo Noten. She implored UNWTO to take effective measures that really make a difference. She argued that it could do so by participating directly with governments and Public Relations or Marketing Managers of Tourism Boards. UNWTO should convince various governments to at least put huge posters and signboards on the airports’ International Arrivals section reading “Say no to Child Abuse”, because it’s not dangerous for businesses or destination countries. Such a proactive future engagement between UNWTO and governments would be a welcome step toward child protection. She reminded that the first international conference on sexual exploitation of children was held as late as 1996 in Stockholm. Therefore, a lot needs to be done for spreading awareness given that some governments are still hesitant in coming forward openly in denouncing the menace of child prostitution. She appreciated some steps taken in this direction by a few ASEAN countries.
Mr Márcio Favilla, Executive Director at UNWTO, commended the crucial points raised by Ms Astrid Winkler. He recalled that before joining UNWTO, he was the Deputy Minister of Tourism in his home country, Brazil where he focused on the issues of Child Labour and Sexual Exploitation of children and teenagers. Ultimately, in cooperation with media, some 924 areas were identified across Brazil where this problem was rampant. He said that compared to international tourism, such exploitation is more prevalent in domestic tourism sector. Thereafter, new legislation was passed to protect children from exploitation, yet a lot needs to be done. He stressed that rather than pointing fingers at the private sector, we should seek its partnership. Isolating the private sector will further aggravate the problem since it is mainly profit-driven and hardly realises the importance of getting more involved or aware on this topic. He bewailed that a section of private local media avoids publishing stories on child exploitation fearing that such reports will drive the tourists away.
Mr Yoshihisa Togo, Vice-Chairman of Japan Committee for UNICEF, underscored the vicious conduct of the Tourist Media. Drawing inspiration from the book “No Hiding Place: Child Sex Tourism and the Role of Extra-Territorial Legislation” by Mr Jeremy Seabrook, he called upon the world media to unite in the fight against sexual exploitation of children. He contended that UNICEF alone is not enough in the Herculean task of protecting children from exploitation. UNWTO’s Ethics and Social Dimensions of Tourism (ESDT) Programme, in this sense, is playing a complementary role to the UNICEF, he observed.
Mr Michael W Gebhardt, Head of CounterEnergy International Travel Agents’ Community, recommended that all private travel portals should place UNWTO’s child protection campaign logo on their websites. It would work as deterrence for the consumers of child sex market who mainly come from the developed or the western world. Spreading the awareness this way will warn the consumer and send them a message that there’re organizations in the world that are watching it all.
Ms Sherry S Sibanda, Minister Counsellor in Tourism at the Embassy of Zimbabwe in Paris, said that poverty also plays a big role in adding fuel to the fire. Children in Africa are literally enraged over the rampant pornography facilitated by many factors such as armed conflicts, destitution, divorces and high incidence of HIV-AIDS. It’s high time we organised such conferences in Africa instead of here in Berlin. She suggested that UNWTO, in collaboration with media, should hold awareness workshops at the UN’s regional offices in developing countries, especially in Africa.
Ms Nele Obermüller summed up that if statistics show that there are 30 million cases of Human Trafficking the world over and 4 million cases in US alone, there must be certain parts of the tourism infrastructure facilitating this. She encouraged everyone to be more vigilant in reporting any suspected case of exploitation or trafficking.
Mr Jürgen Steinmetz seconded the view of Ms Nele Obermüller by proposing for an enhanced partnership between the media and UNWTO. He said that this partnership is very important and we should endeavour to make it stronger by boosting our collaboration with governments and other state actors.
Ms Sandy Dhuyvetter wrapped her arguments by suggesting that united we stand, whereas divided we fall. Together we are better than alone, and therefore we should all, including UNWTO, organise events together to teach people how to report child abuse to put an end to it. It’s not a difficult task when she alone has trained people at 3 airports, namely Dallas, New Orleans and Phoenix.
Prof Mike Jempson concluded that the training and monitoring of journalists is very crucial. Likewise, the social media should also play a more active role in combating the crime of exploitation of children.
Mr John Bell, recalling that 4 of his journalist friends are in jails in Cairo, he vehemently expressed that here we are dealing with the people who are not like us. Those who ruthlessly exploit kids don’t treat them as children but as their possessions. And we as journalists are under immense pressure. There are very few good developments. For example the UK government has put a Slavery Commission at British airports. Likewise, he commended BanglaNatak, an NGO in West Bengal state of India that has done wonderful work against Child Labour.
Mr Márcio Favilla, Executive Director at UNWTO, introduced the Reporting Session on behalf of the Secretary-General. He informed that this session works as a platform for fomenting good practices between the media and the child protection stakeholders. It showcases the success stories as also alerts us against the threats the children and youth may be facing in Tourism. Extending condolences over the recent demise of Mr Ronald Michael O'Grady, the founder of ECPAT, he said that ECPAT has been very instrumental in curbing all forms of exploitation of children and has been a valuable partner of UNWTO in past 15 years. It was on the recommendation of ECPAT that UNWTO established the Task Force on Protection of Children in 1997 which was later on renamed to World Tourism Network on Child Protection. After thanking the guests for their continued engagement with this network, he invited Ms Dorothy Rozga to share her experiences.
Ms Dorothy Rozga, Executive Director at ECPAT International, announced that ECPAT has embarked on a Global Study on Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism which will formally begin in May 2014. She said a lot has changed since 1993 when ECPAT formally came into being, which is why a comprehensive study on this matter is required. She enumerated the following changes in this phenomenon:
With the exponential growth in tourism, more and more children are at risk. As per one study, 2 million children are affected annually at current trends.
In some countries such as Philippines, the community and family members of the affected children rationalise their exploitation under the pretext that they are poor and this is the only way the can feed their families.
The genesis of a plethora of web portals has further simplified the process for anonymous offenders. Now it’s possible to decide what age-group you prefer while booking a child online.
The profile of perpetrators has changed. According to new trends, there has been a shift from tourists to travellers and international to domestic. Moreover, they are no more limited to western travellers. Thus, we have altogether new origins and destinations of the perpetrators and victims, respectively.
Some countries have provided for an extra-territorial application of the legislation against exploitation of children in cases where such crimes are committed by their nationals during their stay abroad.
Irregular tourism development and weak enforcement laws in some countries further aggravate the problem.
There is lack of reliable data. Since the exploitation of children is a criminal act, it becomes even more difficult to collect data. In this regard, she recalled Bill Gate’s words in Davos, “If you can’t measure a problem, you can’t solve it”.
She pointed out to the impact it has on victimised children. To really fight the menace head-on, it’s necessary to rehabilitate such children because merely reporting their case in news media won’t serve any justice to their destroyed lives. Her study aims at providing updated global figures to decision-makers. It’ll be carried out by a task force of 7 eminent persons under the chairmanship of Mr Jean-Cyril Spinetta, the Honorary Chairman of AIRFRANCE KLM Group. The names of the other 6 members of the task force will be announced when confirmed. Promoting collective action, the study will be done by holding interviews, consultations and focused group discussions after regional and international evaluation. The preliminary findings, outcome and recommendations of the study are expected by June 2015. She welcomed collaboration from other participants in her study by distributing a Draft Concept Paper among other participants of the meeting. Presentation of Ms Dorothy Rozga
Ms Afrooz Kaviani, Programme Director at World Vision’s East Asia Regional Office, gave an account of the Project Childhood, an Australian Government initiative in collaboration with World Vision in Mekong area of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. It began more than 3 years ago and will be completed this year. It focuses on two main aspects.
Prevention of Exploitation of Children in Tourism, which is entrusted directly to World Vision, and
Protection of Children from Exploitation in Tourism, which covers the criminal aspects and tends to strengthen the legal framework. It’s done with the collaboration of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
She informed that last year there’s been a 10% rise in international tourist arrivals in the Mekong region.
|COUNTRY||INTERNATIONAL TOURIST ARRIVALS|
Source: World Vision – East Asia Office
Thus, a relatively small region is attracting an incredibly increasing number of global tourists. It makes the children more vulnerable to sexual exploitation, particularly in Thailand that has witnessed arrivals of 26.7 million international tourists last year. The World Vision has trained a total of 8000 girls and boys in this region in empowering them with protective behaviour by imparting age-specific information. She lamented that the children there face huge knowledge deficit in terms of what they learn from parents and what they are trained by World Vision. She noticed that parents have no idea that boys too are equally at risk. World Vision under her stewardship has involved National Tourism Organisations, businesses, research media firms, travellers, parents and care-takers, and some 2000 other frontline players such as community representatives, teachers and social workers in the Child Safe Tourism training programme. Under this training they learn about the modus-operandi of the offenders. In many cases, the perpetrators build sufficient level of trust with their target children in order to escape being caught or raise suspicion. Child Safe Tourism campaign is being run in collaboration with Ministries of Tourism, Sport or Culture of these countries. It has also imparted training to sole proprietors and travel associations such as Kiwi Travel, Intrepid Travel and PATA Thailand. She concluded that World Vision East Asia Regional Office is complementary to ECPAT and The Code and is different from them with respect to its focus on the vulnerability ingredient of children, including orphans and beggars, on a sub-regional level. Trained travellers avoid getting indulged in otherwise potentially problematic behaviour with their host communities. Presentation of Ms Afrooz Kaviani
Mr Stephen Farrant, Director at International Tourism Partnership (ITP), reported on the accomplishments of ITP which is a network of 23,500 hotels encompassing over 3.5 million rooms and 1.5 million employees. In 2010, ITP formed a Working Group that undertook the following 3 tasks:
- Raising awareness about child exploitation
- Developing and communicating industry-wide statement on zero tolerance against child abuse in hospitality sector
- Reintegration of the surviving children by incorporating them into employment programmes
ITP has been sending staff recruitment guidelines to these hotels as also imparting training to their security personnel and house staff. In 2013, its success story was also published by the Guardian.
The reintegration of the child victims is done under its Youth Career Initiative (YCI) programme that started in Bangkok and now spans over 12 countries. YCI is a rehabilitation-cum-work-skills programme that trains young people from 18 to 21 years of age for 6 months. Around 85% of them secure a job in hospitality or service industry within one month of graduating.
In 2010, ITP launched its pilot programme within the YCI in collaboration with the US State Department, under which 20-25% of its pupils are drawn from the survivors of human trafficking. First started in Mexico in collaboration with the Infantia Foundation, it was recently launched in Hanoi (Vietnam) and in future will be expanded to other countries. He said the children who get training as part of this programme become crusaders against human trafficking once they start working in hospitality industry with renewed zeal. Nonetheless, we shouldn’t become complacent because exploitation of children spreads over all industries and markets. Presentation of Mr Stephen Farrant
Mr Theo Noten, Programme Manager at ECPAT Netherlands, shared the first-hand experience of ECPAT NL in fight against child exploitation in Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Gambia, Philippines and Thailand as part of a project sponsored by the Dutch Ministry of External Affairs under two phases: 2008-2010 and then 2011-2013. ECPAT NL focused on reporting and spreading awareness about its Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children among the tourism stakeholders such as private and public sector tourism organizations with a limited financial budget. ECPAT NL thus played the role of an enabler while its partners implemented the project.
Cambodia: It’s essential to work in close cooperation with the Government and the police otherwise it would be like landing in no-man’s land. Likewise, it’s important to choose right hotels for training purposes. The campaign in Cambodia largely involved reporting child protection messages on the reverse side of city maps.
Dominican Republic: ECPAT NL worked with small organizations in coastal areas that were helped by the youth. ECPAT NL received full support and appreciation from the hotels.
Gambia: The biggest challenge was reluctance from the community members who didn’t see child exploitation as a problem, rather a means of survival in the face of abysmal poverty. Therefore, community involvement is indispensable here.
Philippines: Participation from the youth, local governments and community are very important. He recalled the active support from rickshaw drivers in spreading awareness.
Thailand: Child abuse is more common at night. He recalled an altercation between a hotelier and his client who became furious after the former put an anti-child prostitution poster at the hotel’s entrance.
He recommended the maximum involvement of the hoteliers. It could be expedited by engaging them in e-learning. He expressed regret that in all these countries, the internet services are not at par with the requirements of e-learning. Presentation of Mr Theo Noten
Ms Rosa Martha Brown, President and Founder of Infantia Foundation (Mexico), gave a presentation on the success story of a newly introduced certificate for the travel industry stakeholders choosing to join the Mexican Code of Conduct. The Code counts with more than 1000 signatories including a total of 32 secretaries from the Ministry of Tourism. It consists of 9 points that primarily focus on Corporate Social Responsibility within the tourism sector. Awarded by the Tourism Secretary herself, this certificate will set quality standards in the hotel and tourism industry and also prove instrumental in bringing about peace and child-friendly environment. A result of Infantia Foundation’s 14 years collaboration with the public and private sector in Mexico, all tourism stakeholders take pride in receiving it as a mark of their commitment towards child protection. She informed that March 2014 onwards, Infantia Foundation plans to impart online training to more than 7000 employees of the tourism sector. In addition to this, the Infantia Foundation is also dedicated to the Youth Career Initiative (YCI) project in partnership with Mr Stephen Farrant, Director of International Tourism Partnership (ITP). Presentation of Ms Rosa Martha Brown
National Campaign Videos during the Reporting Session:
- Ms Rosa Martha Brown presented a video message which is to be used over various platforms to spread awareness about her campaign in Mexico:
- Uruguay’s Directorate General of Publication and Printing, Ministry of Education and Culture presented a similar video as part of its campaign in child protection:
Mr Frans de Man, Director of Retour Foundation NL, drew the audience’s attention toward two new trends in Dominican Republic. The Tourist Development Schemes that involve land acquisition at cheap rates leave a number of families without any means of survival and in many cases it was noticed that most of the children who were victims of child abuse came from such families. The other trend was that with the passage of time, the hotspots of child exploitation keep shifting their locations. For example, if earlier it used to be Cabarete, now it’s Punta Cana. So, there’s a complex link among tourism development plans, in particular those based on all-inclusive holiday models, and the vulnerability of children. He expressed a desire to address these issues in the future agenda of UNWTO.
Ms Antje Lüdemann, Child Protection Advocacy Officer at World Vision (Germany), raised the question as to what role can the media play in the face of such new trends in tourism development models, to which Mr Theo Noten replied that good news hardly sells unless the media organizations buy more advertising time and content. Then we should also distinguish between regular media reporters and journalists including the investigative journalists. What we can do is to know which media organization would listen to us, and based upon that knowledge we can urge them to take our questions to right politicians. After all, politics is ruled by media these days. Mr John Bell said it’ll make a bigger media story if you publish the details of references on your brochures. Likewise, Prof Mike Jempson said that the story must trigger more stories in order to qualify as newsworthy. For instance, news coverage on parenting in targeted areas will make a good story. Ms Afrooz Kaviani elaborated examples of Google and Facebook Ads as valuable media partners. In her case, Google Ads showered a bonus of 100.000$ worth of free advertisements through Google account. Mr Tom Buncle of Yellow Railroad Ltd. advised that small contributions on our own level could make a huge difference. For example, instead of relying heavily on traditional media firms, what we can do is upload videos on YouTube and link them to our websites.
Mr Márcio Favilla then closed the meeting by thanking all the speakers and participants.