18th meeting of the Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism


10 March 2006

ITB Tourism Fair

Report of the eighteenth meeting of the

(ITB, Berlin, 10 March 2006)

Download a PDF of this report here (Please note that links to presentations within this PDF may not function properly)

1. The Task Force to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation in Tourism held its eighteenth meeting in Berlin on 10 March 2006, as part of parallel events held during ITB. The meeting, which was attended by over 100 delegates, featured a Special Session on Campaign Design and Implementation for the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation of Children in Tourism (SECT).

Opening Remarks

2. The Chairman of the Executive Committee (ExCom) of the Task Force Dr. Dawid de Villiers opened the Task Force meeting by welcoming participants from 34 governments, three intergovernmental organizations, seven international and regional industry associations, 11 national associations and companies, 18 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and 6 media participants.

3. The Chairman underlined the significant progress made by this global network in terms of participation since its establishment in 1997. He reminded that the Task Force was created as an open-ended forum of committed individuals and organizations with the purpose of exchanging experiences and providing information on activities carried out worldwide to prevent and combat against SECT. He added that UNWTO’s role in this international network was to provide the Chairman of the Task Force and the Secretariat, and to enhance cooperation in this field between the private and the public sector.

4. Dr. de Villiers also pointed out that, for the past few years, the UNWTO was placing the efforts of the Task Force into a broader framework, which is that of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. In this context, he announced the publication of a new document, entitled The Responsible Tourist and Traveller, as a simplified version of the Code of Ethics specifically addressed to the travelling public. This document -intended to remind them of the importance of keeping up moral, ethical and respectful behaviour everywhere- has been published as an attractive leaflet in the five official languages of the Organization, viz.: Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

5. Finally, and with regard to the selection of the theme for the next Task Force meeting of November this year, Dr. de Villiers presented two possible options: (a) the involvement of the tourism industry in the campaign to protect children from sexual exploitation, and (b) the protection of children in emergency situations. The first topic was selected by the participants.

Special Session: Campaign Design and Implementation for the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation of Children in Tourism (SECT)

6. Mr. Luc Ferran, Tourism Coordinator of ECPAT International presented some useful guidelines for developing campaign actions against the sexual exploitation of children in tourism. He underlined the importance of establishing clear objectives to raise awareness on this issue and of associating, from the beginning, tourism industry stakeholders who would be able to advice on best ways to reach out to tourists and tourist companies. The target audience should include tourists, tourist professionals and companies, government agencies, NGOs, child sex offenders, etc. The messages of the campaign should be clear and concise and should contemplate a number of action points, such as for example telephone numbers where to report suspicious behaviour. Mr. Ferran stressed the importance of working with other professionals in other fields in order to adopt the right strategy for each target group; collaboration with –and involvement of- social marketing experts throughout the campaign design process is highly recommended. Awareness-raising initiatives against child sex tourism would be best work if linked to strategies focused on improving the quality of life of both children and their families. Mr. Ferran concluded by saying that the campaign must incorporate a monitoring and evaluation process in order to measure the impact on the different stakeholders targeted. Presentation of Mr. Ferran

7. Ms. Jo Elsom, Manager Public Affairs - AusAID, introduced the first case study of the thematic session by indicating that the Australian Government was involved in the ASEAN Regional Public Education Campaign to combat child sex tourism along with the ten ASEAN countries. She considered this project to be a good example of best practice communications, since it proposed a flexible approach to suit the different cultures of the countries.

8. Ms. Maria Victoria Jasmin, Director of Office of Tourism Standards of the Philippines, started her presentation of the ASEAN Regional Public Education Campaign by describing it as a specialized program with regional solutions, since child sex tourism could not be stopped by borders between countries. Through this initiative, the ten ASEAN countries had unanimously adopted a clear message firmly stating that child sex offenders were not welcomed in the region. She also explained that the Australian NGO Child Wise was responsible for coordinating the campaign on behalf of the ASEAN national tourism administrations, as a component of the Child Wise tourism program supported by the Australian Government. A professional social-marketing company called Grey Worldwide had been selected for the production of this behavioural change campaign aimed at promoting child safe ASEAN tourism destinations. The objectives of the campaign were triple: (a) to mobilize responsible travellers and local citizens to report suspicious behaviour; (b) to deter child sex offenders, and (c) to create a culture of intolerance to child sexual abuse.

9. Ms. Jasmin explained that, in the framework of the unified approach to combat the problem in the region, the different countries had developed their own strategy to roll-out the campaign at national level. While in Myanmar campaign materials were displayed in hotels and in airport taxis, in Lao PDR the materials were distributed to tourism operators in emerging destinations such as Luang Prabang and Vientiane. In the Philippines, several training workshops were conducted involving hotel resorts managers, tour operators, airlines, shipping companies and tour guides. In Thailand, the campaign was widely supported by the Thai tourist police and, in Cambodia, campaign materials were distributed to all Cambodian provinces through the Child-Safe Tourism Commission officials. Finally, Ms. Jasmin underlined the need of a campaign against child sex tourism to be actionable and to have a common brand, message and design for easy recognition throughout the region. Presentation of Ms. Jasmin

10. Mr. Sidney Alves Costa, Head of Cabinet of the Ministry of Tourism Brazil, informed participants that the Brazilian Congress had approved a budget of 2.9 million US dollars to the Ministry of Tourism in order to establish a regional task force to protect children, as well as to promote the Code of Conduct and campaigns against child sex tourism in Brazil and in other countries in South America.

11. Ms. Fabiana Gorenstein, consultant of the Brazilian Sustainable Tourism and Childhood Programme, presented a national campaign against the sexual exploitation of children which was recently launched in Brazil on the occasion of carnival. This initiative the result of a positive approach under the concepts of sustainable development, children’s rights and corporative social responsibility. She explained that awareness materials such as banners, posters, stickers, flyers and t-shirts were distributed in airports, streets and hotels in the most popular carnival destinations of the country: i.e. Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Recife and Olinda. The multisectorial approach of the campaign and the building of a sense of commitment among all stakeholders were, according to Ms. Gorenstein, the main lessons learned of this recent action. Presentation of Ms. Gorenstein

Structure of the Executive Committee and Repositioning of the Task Force

12. At the end of the thematic session and before moving to the reporting session, Dr. de Villiers informed participants about the outcome of the meeting of the Executive Committee (ExCom) held on the previous day, which discussed the future of the Task Force. He said that the ExCom considered it necessary to add more flexibility to the ExCom while maintaining the Task Force as a light organization. In this line, the ExCom only redefined the objectives of the two bodies (ExCom and Task Force) rather than proposing a major restructuring of them. As a result, the Committee recommended that the Task Force should continue to operate as an open-ended forum, at the same time as it proposed to increase the number of representatives of the ExCom whose revised structure would be as follows:

13. The Chairman and the Secretariat would continue to be provided by the UNWTO, as in the past. The number of government seats would be increased to up to three, corresponding to the following three regions: Africa, the Americas and Asia. There will be a rotation of country representatives within each region.

14. More involvement is needed from the private sector since there are still important sectors of industry lacking representation in the Committee. Hence, the number of industry seats will be increased to five, each of them representing one of the following categories: (a) hotels; (b) tour operators and travel agencies; (c) airlines; (d) cruise lines; and (e) other transport.

15. Additionally, Dr. de Villiers stressed the importance of media involvement, and therefore he proposed to include at least two media representatives: i.e. one from the electronic media and the other from the printed media.

16. Concerning NGO representation, the Chairman announced that it was necessary to include a second NGO seat on top of that hold by, ECPAT International, a founding member of the Task Force.

17. Dr de Villiers also mentioned the importance of counting in the future with the presence and participation of UNICEF, the only United Nations’ body globally responsible for children’s issues. Moreover, he said that there would also be a seat reserved for an expert on issues of corporate social responsibility.

18. The Chairman recognized that other sectors -such as education and training- could also be represented in the ExCom. However, for flexibility purposes, experts in these fields shall be invited to attend the meetings on an ad hoc basis.

19. Finally, the proposed new structure for the ExCom, as presented by the Chairman, was unanimously accepted by Task Force participants. The new structure is reproduced below:

  • UNWTO (Chairman and Secretariat)
  • Government (3 seats: Africa, the Americas & Asia)
  • Industry (5 seats: hotels; TO/TA/business travel; airlines; cruise lines; other transport)
  • NGO (2 seats: ECPAT and other NGO)
  • MEDIA (2 seats: electronic and printed media)
  • Corporate Social responsibility

20. Dr. de Villiers considered it necessary to set a time frame to allow for the new Committee to be established, and therefore suggested that the ExCom should continue to function in its present composition until the meeting at ITB next year in Berlin (March 2007). He proposed that a process of consultation with members of the different interest groups (or organisations representative of a particular sector) regarding their representation on the Executive Committee should be followed, rather than elections. The Task Force has a flexible structure appropriate for a Forum and is not an organisation with members that should vote. It would therefore be preferable to fill seats from the diverse interest groups on the basis of consultation and consensus. In the absence of a nomination an appropriate person could be invited by the Excom to fill the seat.

21. The members unanimously supported the proposal of the Chairman.

22. Dr. de Villiers also explained that a document including the newly accepted structure and possible ways of covering the new vacancies, would be circulated to participants well in advance to get suggestions.

23. In the meantime, the Committee would continue to function subject to the following temporary adjustments:

a. temporary replacement of the Vice Chair of the Committee, Ms Jacqueline de Rey of UFTAA, by Ms Nicoll Chome, Deputy CEO of UFTAA. (At the last UNWTO General Assembly of December 2005, Ms de Rey was elected to the World Committee on Tourism Ethics, and will therefore leave the ExCom);

b. temporary nomination to the ExCom of two media representatives –one for the printed media and the second for the electronic media- in replacement of IFJ:

i. Ms Ellen Asmodeo, Senior Vice President & Publisher, AMEX Travel & Leisure Magazine; and
ii. Mr. Juergen Thomas Steinmetz, Publisher & President, eTurboNews.

24. Lastly, the Chairman reminded the overall frame of action for responsible tourism which is represented by the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. He affirmed that the Code of Ethics contemplated the abuse and exploitation of children in tourism, as well as a wide range of related topics. For this reason, Dr. de Villiers suggested that there should be a link between the Task Force and the World Committee on Tourism Ethics (WCTE), the subsidiary organ of the UNWTO General Assembly in charge of the implementation of the Code of Ethics.

25. The Chairman therefore formally presented a proposal aimed at repositioning the Task Force with the purpose of becoming, through its Executive Committee, an advisory committee of the WCTE. This proposal of formal recognition by the WCTE as the expert body on issues related to SECT, would be submitted to the WCTE at its forthcoming session to be held in Bangalore, India, on 2-3 June 2006. The Task Force participants found this proposal acceptable.

Reporting Session: Reports on actions/measures taken by governments and organizations

26. Mr. Luis Fernando Helguero González, Vice Minister for Tourism of Peru, reported on the National Campaign on Prevention of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth in Tourism carried out by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism. He made reference to the Childhood National Action Plan aimed at achieving the reduction of sexual exploitation of children for the year 2010. In the framework of the Tourism Strategic National Plan (Pentur), several communication campaigns were developed to provide information and to promote the implementation of good practices in the tourism industry. These initiatives were addressed to national and foreign travellers, tourism service suppliers, the tourism industry and students. He mentioned the implementation of a National Training Strategy addressed to regional governments, educational institutions and other tourism stakeholders, with an attendance of more than 3000 tourism workers in 2005. The major actions of the campaign included raising awareness of travellers through in-flight videos and the publication of a guide, entitled “From Spectators to Actors”, for suppliers of tourism services and a trainer's guide. Presentation of Mr. Helguero González

27. Mr. Udaya Nanayakkara, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Board, reported on actions undertaken to combat Child Sex Tourism in his country. He recognized that among the causes leading to the problem were poverty and the lack of awareness among children, parents and law enforcements officers. He pointed out that the vision of the Sri Lanka Tourist Board was the commitment to eradicate Child Sex Tourism in his country so that their children could live free from sexual abuse and exploitation. The Action Plan was aimed at increasing the community awareness and involved training workshops addressed to hoteliers, tour operators, airports, police, councils, guides and other tourism stakeholders. He reminded that these activities were supported by the production of materials with relevant information, such as baggage tags, hotel door knobs, billboards, posters, stickers and in-flight videos. Mr. Nanayakkara explained that the legislation against CST in Sri Lanka did not only punish the offender but also the manager, controller, trafficker or anybody who had been party of the final exploitation of children. Finally, he remarked that it was very important to maximize the coordination with police, social authorities and NGOs in tourist areas to tackle this issue. Presentation of Mr. Nanayakkara

28. Mr. Luis Simó, Undersecretary for Tourism of Dominican Republic presented his country’s Campaign and National Plan of Action which included the design of an advertising campaign and the creation of an Inter-institutional Commission against the Commercial and Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Minors. He gave an outline of the training programmes addressed to hoteliers, taxi drivers, guides and tourism professionals and to staff of Dominican tourist boards in Europe, Latin America and USA. Some specialized seminars on the rights of children and adolescents were conducted for the tourism police as well as for the local officers working in tourism destinations such as Punta Cana, Puerto Plata and Las Terrenas. Mr. Simó said that the municipalities had been actively involved in actions against sexual abuse as they were the closest actor to tourists when they travel. The campaign produced several ads in radio and TV, posters and brochures, all featuring a clear message stating that sexual abuse of children would not be tolerated in the country.

29. Ms. Lyndall de Marco, Executive Director, International Tourism Partnership of the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders’ Forum (IBLF) of the United Kingdom, announced a joint initiative with UNWTO on human rights, called the Tourism and Human Rights Initiative. The Tourism and Human Rights Initiative will recognise the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism as the overarching standard to guide the global activities of the project, which will be reinforced through the development and adoption of a specific set of human rights principles for the industry, with appendices for individual sectors. She considered that the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism was one of the most valuable documents that had ever been produced for the tourism industry. Ms. de Marco mentioned that the new IBLF/UNWTO partnership represented a means of integrating the GCET into the business daily operations, and that the hotels would be the first sector to be addressed as they are the larger and more complex group of the tourism industry. She concluded by saying that it would be important to look on how tourism could be a positive force in the world.

30. Mr. Philip Lane, Director of Oasis International, presented the Campaign on Business Travellers against Human Trafficking, created by Oasis and ECPAT Belgium, and whose objective was to help in the fight against human trafficking by specifically informing and equipping business travellers to be advocates for change. This particular group could be a powerful lobby for change since they use to be valued customers for hotels. This initiative involved several measures to raise awareness amongst the business travel community about human trafficking and to provide background information and daily updates on this issue, as well as a place on the internet for people to report suspicious behaviours (www.businesstravellers.org). He added that the Campaign provided the opportunity to business travellers to give financial assistance to actions that would help vulnerable children affected by human trafficking. Mr. Lane indicated that the project had received support by Members of the European Parliament who had recommended it in a recent report on trafficking. Presentation of Mr. Lane

31. Ms. Camelia Tepelus, Secretariat Coordinator of the Steering Committee of the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism, informed about the recent developments of the Code, now represented in 23 countries and signed by more than 250 companies. She mentioned the various organizations that composed the Code Steering Committee responsible for designing actions to prevent child sex tourism in different tourism sectors. Ms. Tepelus explained the Code criteria which constituted a set of six practical measures to be adopted by the private sector (tour operators, travel agencies, hotels). Some of the latest achievements involved the signature of the Code in Germany with the support of the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry (BTW) and ECPAT Germany, in Kenya with the support of Respect Austria and the Kenyan Ministry of Tourism, and in Italy with the support of ASTOI and ECPAT Italy. Presentation of Ms. Tepelus

32. Ms. Charlotte Thouvard, Accor Corporate Communications and External Relations, presented the poster showing her company´s commitment on the prevention of child sex tourism. She mentioned the major actions of the partnership with ECPAT for the protection of children from sexual exploitation in tourism, such as the adoption of the Code of Conduct in Brazil, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and Dominican Republic and the participation in several customer and partner awareness actions. The activities carried out to tackle this problem also involved the attendance to specific international or government workshops and the distribution of over 2 million ECPAT information leaflets. Ms Thouvard also informed on the Walk for Children or Rak Dek Day initiative in Thailand, an annual event jointly organized by Accor and ECPAT since 2003 whose objective was to raise funds via an outdoor public and family-oriented activity. The event was also aimed at creating awareness amongst local population, tourists and Accor staff as well as at promoting ECPAT’s mission to prevent the sexual exploitation of children in tourism. Presentation of Ms. Thouvard

33. Ms. Anneka Farrington, Tourism Program Officer of Child Wise Australia, made a brief presentation on the new training materials that were produced within the framework of the ASEAN Campaign addressed to tourism staff, managers, students and businesses. Presentation of Ms. Farrington

Next meeting

34. The Chairman announced that the nineteenth meeting of the Task Force was scheduled to take place at WTM London, on Monday, 6 November 2006.

See also

  • Download a PDF of the Report of the 18th meeting of the Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism (Berlin, 10 March 2006) (Please note that links to presentations are not accessible within this PDF)