23rd meeting of the Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism


10 November 2008

WTM (World Travel Market)
United Kingdom

Report of the twenty-third meeting of the

(WTM, London, United Kingdom, 10 November 2008)

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

1. The Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism held its twenty-third meeting in London on 10 November 2008, as part of the parallel events held during World Travel Market (WTM). The meeting, which was attended by over 100 delegates, featured the launch of the new Protect Children Campaign as well as a thematic session on Private-Public Sector Cooperation to prevent the Exploitation of Children in Tourism.

Opening Remarks

2. The Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Task Force, Dr. Dawid de Villiers opened the Task Force meeting by welcoming participants from 30 governments, intergovernmental organizations, 8 international and regional tourism organizations, 18 national tourism associations and companies, 17 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), 4 educational institutions and 11 media representatives.

3. The Chairman underlined the strong participation at the meeting thanks to the venue at the ExCel fair grounds sponsored by WTM. Dr. de Villiers then welcomed Dr. Taleb Rifai, Deputy Secretary-General of the UNWTO and Ms. Fiona Jeffery, Chairman of the World Travel Market.

4. Dr. Rifai started by thanking all participants most of whom, he said, had been working hard for many years on the issue of the protection of children. He reminded that over the last few decades tourism had become a big phenomenon, with mostly positive, but also negative impacts. The UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET) was approved in 1999 in order to make tourism sustainable and responsible, and to provide guidance to all stakeholders, ranging from governments to industry and tourists. Tourism was a sector which required the respect of human rights, particularly of the rights of the most vulnerable groups of our society, where children came on top. Dr. Rifai further recalled Article 2 of the Code which especially referred to the protection of children, and stressed on the fact that without respect of human beings, there could be no “tourism”. Sexual exploitation, forced labour and trafficking could no longer be tolerated even less so when children were concerned.

5. Dr. Rifai invited everybody to join the new UNWTO Protect Children Campaign and to give it effective support, as the initiative needed powerful backing and commitment. He further thanked the Campaign partners, international organizations and associations as well as governments for their cooperation. He also remarked the work done by Dr. de Villiers, who spent most part of his life associating himself with good causes like the protection of children. Dr. Rifai also thanked the two international journalists for designing the new Campaign, as well as Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Mr. Oscar Arias, President of Costa Rica, for his support to the Campaign.

6. Dr. de Villiers reminded that all the good work done so far had been possible thanks to the collaborative efforts of people and organizations committed to the protection of children in tourism. He then introduced Ms. Fiona Jeffery, Chairperson of the World Travel Market and initiator of the “Just a drop” Campaign.

7. Ms. Fiona Jeffery, Chairman of the World Travel Market welcomed the participants to the 2008 edition of the World Travel Market. As a mother, she was of the opinion that children should come first and that protecting them was something instinctive, like a natural duty. Unfortunately, children’s rights were not respected in many parts of the world for various reasons as among which the lack of education and poverty. Ms. Jeffery confessed that when UNWTO informed her about the launch of the new Campaign at WTM, she felt very proud because of the great opportunity it represented to spread the message to more than 200 countries and 3000 media representatives present at the fair. WTM was not only a business place, but also a global platform for all those working in the tourism sector. She assured that WTM would not only support the cause but would spread the message of the campaign. Governments and the private sector must demonstrate cooperative leadership not only for economic issues, but also for issues linked to the protection of children.


8. After presenting the video message by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and President of Costa Rica, Mr. Oscar Arias in support of the new Protect Children Campaign (accessible at: http://ethics.unwto.org/en/content/campaign-logo-and-multimedia), Dr. de Villiers said that many other governments were participating in the project which was a clear proof that the message was reaching policymakers.

9. In explaining the campaign spot production process, international journalist and broadcasting expert Mr. Nick Easen mentioned the difficulties of being inclusive rather than exclusive, or of being positive when talking about negative issues. When designing the Campaign spot, it was decided to avoid showing tourists in bad actions since people did not recognize themselves in this kind of situations. The video message would therefore try to make people aware of the fact that evil actions, alas, happened everywhere, even if it did not seem so. In showing the spot (http://ethics.unwto.org/en/content/campaign-logo-and-multimedia), he explained its structure and sequences, by starting to picture beautiful places (like in a tourist promotional video). Then the central part of the spot would focus on the key message to the audience; while, at the end, it suggested to the viewers what they could do: visit www.unwto.org/protectchildren. Mr Easen invited participants to link to the UNWTO website where the video would be available. Finally, he thanked Ms. Christine Beddoe as well as ChildWise Australia for permitting the use of the slogan: DON´T LET CHILD ABUSE TRAVEL

10. Ms. Alla Peressolova, Fairs and Communications Assistance Officer at UNWTO, informed that the broadcasting of the video the previous day to a group of 400 journalists gathered at a dinner for tourism writers had earned great success. She reminded that the video was available on UNWTO website and encouraged everybody to download it and to use it for their own campaign along with the other Campaign tools such as stickers, information cards and posters.

Interventions by partners in support of the Campaign

11. Mr. Giorgio Berardi from ECPAT International welcomed the new initiative of UNWTO and was of the opinion that, as a first step, it was necessary to increase public awareness even among those persons who were not familiar with the problem in order to create a general rejection across society. Mr. Berardi said that his organization would continue putting pressure on everybody in order to obtain important results and commitments in this sense.

12. Mr. Birger Bäckman from the United Federation of Travel Agents’ Associations (UFTAA) explained that his organization was very proud about the commitment they made some years ago with the issue of the protection of children. He told that the spirit of the new campaign was to involve all stakeholders, and that his Federation would inform its member associations worldwide in order to extend the message of the campaign.

13. Mr. Patrick Dalban-Moreynas from the International Workers Union (IUF/IUTA) welcomed the new campaign and especially the fact that it dealt not only with sexual exploitation of children but also with other important issues, like child labour. IUF strongly believed that both employers and employees had a common interest to combat the exploitation of children and therefore, IUF would support the campaign and would encourage its associates to contact other stakeholders from the private and public sectors to discuss the initiative.

14. Ms. Zsofia Farkas from Terre des Hommes Foundation (TDH), expressed the pleasure of her Foundation to support the campaign along with other prestigious companies and organizations. She explained that TDH was a non-governmental organization working in more than 40 countries to combat the exploitation of children. TDH strongly supported the new campaign of the UNWTO, which was focused on the exploitation of children in general, and not only on sexual abuse.

15. Mr. Hamish McCulloch from Interpol explained that his organization worked in more than 180 countries and that it supported UNWTO since the beginning of the Task Force, in particular, in the field of the identification of offenders and in capacity building of the police at national level. Interpol conducted several seminars in order to prepare policemen to deal with the victims and to recognize particular situations. Mr. McCulloch congratulated the authors of the video because it was done for the right target group and was using the right language.

16. Mr. Jim Power from Skal International reminded that his organization, with 20,000 members in 90 countries, participated in the Task Force since 1999. His hope was to try to spread the message of the campaign before 20th November, the Universal Children Day. He also assured that his Association would continue to provide support to the Task Force.

17. Mr. Thomas Steinmetz from E-Turbo News was very proud of the work that his colleagues and journalists Messrs Easen and Bell had done. He said that eTurbo News would use its database to spread the Campaign and that he would create a new space in which readers could leave messages or could discuss about issues related to child protection.


18. Ms. Chris Beddoe, Director of ECPAT UK, congratulated the journalists for the video and the UNWTO for the campaign. Her organization started its work in 1994 and since then it could improve and increase its network thanks to many collaborators and partners, and in particular, to the Association of the British Travel Agencies (ABTA). Due to their relationship and the support of the latter, ECPAT UK started and conducted many programmes of work, trainings, campaigns, research and publications. Ms. Beddoe also informed that they were approaching a new way of doing training through an online platform e-learning. That tool would enable to reach out to many people all over the world and to offer them training at low costs.

19. Mr. Keith Richards, Head of Business Development and Consumer Affairs, ABTA – The Travel Association, reported that the United Kingdom registered around 70 million outbound overseas trips every year, heading to different destinations and moving mostly by plane. ABTA represented more than 800 tour operators and almost 6.000 travel agencies which together sold the 80% of the outbound market. Mr. Richards believed that it was important to use their network to reach as more people as possible.

20. Mr. Richards further explained that ABTA usually sold the classical tourist package through which tourists and local companies could be kept more or less under control. However, with the growth of independent and self-organized tours, he believed that it was important to run general campaigns to raise awareness of travellers as well as of the local communities and companies. Mr. Richards reported on a few awareness-raising initiatives supported by ABTA such as the funding of training courses and the production of materials and tools in collaboration with ECPAT UK and other organizations who dealt with the protection of children in tourism.

21. Ms. María Amalia Revelo, Deputy Manager and Marketing Director, Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT), presented the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children as a best practice in the field of sustainable and responsible Tourism, and of social responsibility in her country where the tourism industry was the most appreciated source of national income. She said that the initiative was implemented under the framework of the child rights approach, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The project was initially funded by Fundecooperación in 2003 under its Sustainable Tourism Program and further operated with the financial support of Save the Children Sweden, including a supplementary funding generated through the Tourism in Solidarity Initiative launched by Paniamor in 2007. Ms. Revelo explained that the process implied that signatory companies should comply with certain requirements and steps provided by the Code model.

22. Ms. Revelo said that her country’s National Plan of Action to eradicate the sexual exploitation of children for the period 2008-2010 included the adoption of the Code of Conduct as a pre-condition set by the Costa Rican Tourism Board for companies to qualify for the Tourism Sustainability Certification. She also reminded that almost 300 companies adopted the Code and more than 6000 employees were trained. She further referred to the National Campaign and to the main action lines for the period 2008-2009 which include: (a) Expand the outreach of the Code within hotels, rent-a-cars, taxi companies and other tourism transporting providers; (b) Follow-up with ICT and the national tourism chambers on the on-going institutionalization process; (c) Continue stimulating and accompanying the development of similar processes in other countries, and (d) Extend PANIAMOR partnership with local agents of tourism development to encompass new “good practices” in the area of responsible and sustainable tourism and corporate social responsibility. Presentation of Ms. Revelo

23. Ms. Afrooz Kaviani Johnson, Program Officer, ChildWise Australia, explained that the South East Asia Region known as ASEAN was composed by the ten governments of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet-Nam. She recognized that the ASEAN area was one that most suffered with the problem of sexual exploitation of children in the world and for that reason the ten countries joined their efforts to fight this phenomenon. Ms Kaviani reminded that the collaboration between the ASEAN and the Australian NGO ChildWise started in 1999 and that a Regional Task Force had been created in order to adopt concrete actions and to enforce national legislations. That process led to the involvement of the private sector and the creation of a Regional education training campaign. Ms. Kaviani concluded by saying that the ASEAN governments had recently developed a 5-year Plan dedicated to the fight against the exploitation of children and that they had opened up to private sector collaboration in order to escalate efforts.

24. Mr. Soeng Sonat, Member of the Child Safe Tourism Committee, Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia, firstly stressed the fact that the problem of the sexual exploitation of children was not only an East-Asian problem. He mentioned the organization in cooperation with ChildWise of breakfasts and dinners for the private sector in order to convince them to support the project with funds or other concrete actions. As a result, many companies joined the campaign and financed actions such as the printing and distribution of related materials. Mr. Sonat also informed about some fruitful collaborations with organizations such as ECPAT Cambodia and the International Labour Organization, with whom the Ministry produced a video for the prevention of the child labour and trafficking of human beings. Presentation of Ms. Kaviani Johnson and Mr. Sonat

25. Mr. Alberto Canovas, Operations Manager, International Business Leaders’ Forum (IBLF), presented the Youth Career Initiative (YCI), a six-month education programme of the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) whereby top hotels provide the human, financial and operational resources to teach disadvantaged young people life and vocational skills, through a combination of classroom instruction and practical training in over 15 skill areas of the hotel. The aim of YCI is to empower vulnerable young people between 18 and 21 years of age to make informed career choices and realize the options available to them, enabling them to become employable and change their long-term social and economic prospects through vocational training and education. More information: http://www.youthcareerinitiative.org

Next meeting

26. After thanking participants for their attention and contributions to the meeting, the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Task Force, Dr. Dawid de Villiers announced that the twenty-fourth meeting of the Task Force was scheduled to take place at ITB Berlin, on 13 March 2009.

See also

  • Download a PDF version of the Report of the 23rd meeting of the Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism (London, 10 November 2008) (Please note that links to presentations are not accessible within this PDF)