An NGO that helps provide accreditation standards for both sustainable travel and tourism operators – and destinations – will expand its involvement in child protection.
At last week’s ITB travel trade show in Berlin, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), which represents a diverse range of global members within the sustainable travel industry, signed a ‘memorandum of understanding’ with The Code and ECPAT International. The three organizations agreed to work together to expand standards for the protection of children.
“Sustainable tourism is on the rise, consumer demand is growing for this kind of travel, industry suppliers are developing new programmes, and governments are creating new policies. And while the focus of sustainable travel and tourism has traditionally been on the environment – it is important that the potential human cost is also taken into consideration. Growth in the travel and tourism sector must include child protection mechanisms to be truly sustainable.”
Robbert van den Berg, Executive Director of ECPAT
All companies should have sustainable policies in practice
GSTC establishes and manages global standards for sustainable businesses and destinations, referred to as the “GSTC criteria.” According to GSTC, these are the minimum requirements that any tourism business or destination should aspire to in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for conservation and poverty alleviation. “Destination criteria” are used by public policy-makers and destination managers, and “industry criteria” are used by hotels and tour operators.
“The GSTC Criteria include social elements, and we are pleased to engage ECPAT International and The Code in their ongoing development and implementation of child protection measures.”
Randy Durband, Chief Executive Officer, GSTC
The Code has already been working with GSTC for a number of years and encourages its members to adhere to the GSTC criteria for sustainability, while GSTC encourages its partners to support The Code – as a practical means of implementing child protection standards.
“The Code is very pleased to see further integration of criteria and measures for the protection of children in the standards for GSTC as this will have a widespread impact on the global tourism industry taking steps collectively to protect children in travel and tourism.”
Elise Allart, The Code Board, TUI Group.
Currently, GSTC is reviewing its performance indicators for “destinations.” ECPAT International has helped in this process.
Research indicates that the sexual exploitation of children through the travel and tourism industry has grown exponentially in recent years – in tandem with the rapid growth of the sector. As new destinations and countries open up, this has imperilled children who today are more and more vulnerable to traveling sex offenders.