MADRID – As tourism and international travel across the globe reaches unprecedented levels, so does the need to combat child labor and sexual exploitation in the global travel industry – that is why the United Nations body for tourism is taking action now.
A new awareness campaign from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the International Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism will look to raise the profile of children who are being exploited.
A total of 218 million children are estimated to be engaged in labor world wide, while millions are especially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, according to the International Labor Organization.
The UNWTO strongly believes that the tourism industry has a moral obligation and a special responsibility to combat child labor, sexual exploitation, and trafficking of children.
“The tourism industry is an economic sector that creates job opportunities and enriches the lives of many people across the globe. We, in the UNWTO, stand for responsible and sustainable tourism, one that is respectful of the people and their local culture and committed to help generate income and decent employment for local communities. But most of all, we stand for an industry that is respectful of human rights. Our industry has, therefore, a strong obligation to be at the forefront of this campaign,” said Taleb Rifai, deputy secretary-general of the UNWTO. “We must act now. Children are our future. Don’t let child abuse travel!”
“There are few human-rights violations more disturbing than the exploitation of children either for labor or sexual acts. All of us who work in the field of tourism should fight against these abuses and contribute to their eradication,” said Dawid de Villiers, chairman of the International Task Force.
The campaign, under the banner of – “Protect Children from Exploitation in Travel and Tourism” – stresses that it is unacceptable for the industry and the traveling public to tolerate the abuse of children in all its forms.
As part of this campaign, the UNWTO is encouraging the industry to enforce its Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (www.unwto.org/protectchildren) and protect children against harm.
The campaign will be formally launched at the World Travel Market 2008 at the 23rd meeting of the International Task Force in London, November 10, 2008, and globally on Universal Children’s Day, November 20, through joint and coordinated efforts by all partners, participants, and supporters.
The campaign already enjoys broad support on the part of national governments, tourism boards, and other UN agencies, as well as partners from the public and private sectors.
The UNWTO is using various forms of media including video, web, and print in order to disseminate its message. A new logo is available and a number of web pages and an email address, [email protected], are dedicated to this campaign.
The UN body is also encouraging and supporting local programs across the globe. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and president of Costa Rica, Óscar Arias has made a video address on the topic, which is available on request.