XII Annual Meeting of the Regional Action Group of the Americas for the prevention of sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism

XII Annual Meeting of the Regional Action Group of the Americas (GARA – Grupo de Acción Regional de las Américas) for the prevention of sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism

GARA held its annual meeting on 13-15 November 2019 in Asuncion, Encarnacion y Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. The meeting was hosted by the government of Paraguay and attended by the representatives of the Ministries and Institutes of Tourism from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. Two new countries – Guyana and Salvador – joined GARA. ECPAT International and the Inter-American Children´s Institute (IIN-OAS) acted as Observers.

A video message was delivered from Mr. Manuel Butler Halter, the UNWTO Executive Director, to praise GARA for their work in preventing child sexual exploitation in travel and tourism. He reaffirmed UNWTO’s commitment to prevent this crime and stressed that the recently adopted UNWTO Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics, once ratified, will offer a binding tool for all governments and the travel and tourism sector to protect children.

As part of the Plan of Action 2018-2020, GARA approved and resolved, among other action points, to:

  • Strengthen regional efforts to promote sustainable tourism destinations in which children’s rights are respected through awareness raising, establishment and strengthening of institutional capacities and active participation of key actors in the sector, to gradually prevent and eradicate various forms of exploitation of children in the context of travel and tourism in the countries of the Americas
  • Promote the process of incorporating the reporting mechanisms of GARA member countries into the international platform www.dontlookaway.report that was launched globally by ECPAT, The World Travel & Tourism Council, Carlson, TUI and with the presence of GARA, within the framework of the World Travel Market 2019 in London;
  • Be part of the analysis of codes of conduct and other protection mechanisms of children in the context of travel and tourism in countries of America, which will be developed by ECPAT International with the participation of the members of GARA. The analysis will be presented in a report for use in the targeted countries as a tool for exchange of best practices, experiences and models; and as a good practice document for use in advocacy in other regions to showcase successful interventions in America and present models for replication.

More information from the meeting is available in the report in Spanish or English.

About GARA: Since 2006, the Regional Action Group of the Americas (GARA – Grupo de Acción Regional de las Américas) has enhanced cooperation and coordination efforts in the region, focusing on raising awareness and delivering trainings to prevent the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism. It is currently composed of 16 Ministries, Institutes and Secretariats of Tourism from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Salvador and Uruguay. The Inter-American Children´s Institute (IIN) – the Specialized Organization of the Organization of American States (OAS) on children and adolescents – and ECPAT International have an observer status with GARA.