The Americas: First overview on child protection standards to make travel and tourism free from sexual exploitation
Civil society organisations in the Americas have long been working with the travel and tourism sector to protect children from sexual exploitation. An essential tool is codes of conduct that guide all actors in the sector on how to improve their child protection work. In the Americas, national codes of conduct are used, along with the ECPAT hosted initiative The Code, that help meet the international legal standards.
Today, ECPAT International and the Regional Action Group of the Americas (GARA), are releasing the first report that analyses how these codes can be streamlined and collectively work to protect every child in the region from all forms of sexual exploitation.
The report comes at the time when the impact of COVID-19 increases the rates of inequality, poverty, hunger and the necessity to cover basic needs, that further accelerate the vulnerability of children and their families to trafficking and sexual exploitation. All governments, businesses and civil society organisations need to strengthen their child protection efforts and create safe and protective environments for children, now and when the travel and tourism restarts. ECPAT International and GARA’s new report gives insights on how it can be done and includes:
- A review and comparison of the national codes of conduct for the protection of children in travel and tourism, their relation to The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism (The Code) and the UNWTO Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics.
- Promising practices that can inspire other actors to establish child protection standards.
- A clear direction and recommendations for improving and strengthening action by governments and businesses to protect children from sexual exploitation.
“The report gives in-depth insight on how voluntary and obligatory measures can be practically implemented by governments, the private sector and civil society organisations to protect children from sexual exploitation as part of sustainable and responsible travel and tourism development.”
– Gabriela Kühn, Head of Programme on Child Protection in Travel and Tourism, ECPAT International
“To promote the culture of zero tolerance to the sexual exploitation of children, 16 National Tourism Administrations that are part of GARA, namely from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Perú and Uruguay work together with the private sector and civil society organisations to make sure that national codes of conduct are part of wider prevention efforts and processes to create protective environments for children.”
– Karina Baldovino and Gimena Chiazzaro, Secretariat of GARA, Ministry of Tourism of Uruguay
The way forward:
- Adopt and implement mandatory child protection policies and conduct a thorough human rights impact assessments in public and private tourism attractions and destinations.
- Establish government-regulated child protection standards for the tourism industry.
- Ensure that the presence of volunteers and staff working in institutions or activities where children are present is closely regulated through, for example, international police clearances and codes of conduct.
- Include child protection as a key element for sustainable and responsible development now, and as the travel and tourism industry recovers after the COVID-19 pandemic.