As tourism continues to grow globally, particularly in South East Asia, it is becoming increasingly urgent to consider its impact on local communities, particular where this relates to child exploitation. This is why UNWTO and World Vision East Asia Regional Office have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, forging a partnership aimed at fighting the exploitation of children in the tourism sector (17 April 2014).
The MOU aims to enhance the collaboration between UNWTO and World Vision (WV), a relief, development and advocacy organization working to protect children from exploitation, trafficking and abuse.
Areas of future cooperation between UNWTO and WV include the promotion of tools, good practices and case studies to support child protection in tourism, comprising the WV-coordinated Child Safe Tourism Campaign, endorsed by the governments of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam, which informs travellers on the actions they can take to protect children and young people from abuse in tourism destinations. The Campaign is part of Project Childhood, an initiative funded by the Australian Government to combat the sexual exploitation of children in tourism in the Mekong sub-region.
UNWTO has been working in the same sphere through the World Tourism Network on Child Protection (formerly the Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism) for more than 15 years now. Set to prevent all forms of child and youth exploitation within the tourism sector, the Network serves as a platform for tourism stakeholders and other relevant actors to exchange experiences and promote the adoption of responsible policies and business practices in line with the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.
“The growth of the tourism sector brings important development opportunities, but also immense challenges, affecting namely the most vulnerable groups of society. Children and youth are particularly at risk, and it is imperative that the tourism sector stakeholders work together to tackle the pressing issue of child exploitation. World Vision has always been appreciated as a very committed and active partner of the UNWTO World Tourism Network on Child Protection and we are very happy to be able to join our efforts in fighting such a hideous practice as child exploitation” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
“In South East Asia, World Vision has a number of programs dedicated to reducing harm to children from abuse, exploitation and trafficking, including in the tourism sector. Tourism is growing rapidly in this region bringing many opportunities as well as some risks to children. For this reason we are pleased to be joining forces with UNWTO in our joint sustainable approach to child safe tourism” said World Vision East Asia Director for Integrated Ministry Warren Climenhaga.