World Tourism Day – 27 September 2021
In 2020, an additional 32 million people were pushed into extreme poverty. The current crisis dramatically increases the vulnerability of children, particularly in countries that have traditionally relied on the income generated from travel and tourism.
Poverty forces families to make difficult decisions regarding their survival. Children are often at the receiving end of these difficult decisions and face life altering consequences such as being withdrawn from school to enter the world of work, forced into child marriage, or sent away, in the hope of attaining better lives. The reality is that these decisions only serve to increase their vulnerability to trafficking and sexual exploitation.
As COVID-19 related restrictions ease and travel becomes more possible, child sex offenders that have increasingly sought online engagement are likely to seek offline contact to directly abuse and exploit children. INTERPOL recommends close monitoring of travel for registered child sex offenders when travel restrictions are relaxed to protect victims overseas. Although no country, business, or destination is immune to sexual exploitation of children, offenders – both foreign and domestic alike – tend to target countries with more lenient legal and policy frameworks, and where families and children are more vulnerable to economic, social, and cultural factors.
This World Tourism Day, ECPAT International and its members are urging governments and business to ensure that no child is left behind during the post-COVID-19 recovery of travel and tourism.
THIS YEAR’S OFFICIAL CELEBRATION OF THE WORLD TOURISM DAY IS HOSTED BY COTE D’IVOIRE
Until the COVID-19 pandemic, over 10 % of the Côte d’Ivoire’s GDP was derived from tourism and the number of international arrivals to the country continued to grow. However, despite this expansion limited measures were put in place to protect children from sexual exploitation. While the country prepares to reopen, child protection needs to be prioritised among other sustainability issues.
The tourism sector in Côte d’Ivoire is overseen by the Ministry of Tourism and regulated by the Tourism Code. In 2013, the National Federation of Tourism Industry signed the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism at the UNWTO Commission meeting for Africa. In 2014, the law No. 2014-139 introduced the Tourism Code. Article 54 “obliges all tourists to avoid the exploitation of human beings in all its forms, in particular sexual and especially when it applies to children”.
In reference the Tourism Code, Ivorian non-governmental organizations, such as SOS VIOLENCES SEXUELLES work to protect children from sexual exploitation. In a 2016 situation analysis, data showed that:
With the increased vulnerabilities of children due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an urgent need to improve child protection legal and policy frameworks in Côte d’Ivoire, as reflected in country analysis conducted by ECPAT International. For instance:
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, as reflected in the “Out of the Shadows” country profile report, the travel and tourism industry engagement in child protection was low, none of the companies from Côte d’Ivoire or those operating in the country implemented the six criteria of The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism.
ECPAT International is engaged in the Corona-Tourism-Package the German Federal Government has initiated in March 2021 to retain the structures of the tourism sector and to empower local actors to offer products and services in tourism. In the spirit of “build back better”, the aim is also to improve the ecological and social aspects of tourism and to achieve improved resilience. The measures are closely tailored to the needs of the local people.
The entire program addresses 26 countries, that are particularly badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Philippines and Vietnam are among those. ECPAT International’s approach is to support the governments to best protect children from the sexual exploitation through the development and enforcement of legal and policy frameworks, and the private sector, in identifying and addressing the risk and impacts they may have on children as the tourism restarts.
ECPAT International and its members call upon the governments and business in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Philippines and Vietnam to take azero-tolerance approach towards the sexual exploitation of children as the travel and tourism industry restarts.
Specifically, we call for:
Hear from ECPAT members in Asia, Africa and Latin America about the power of tourism and the positive transformation it can drive only when children are protected from trafficking and sexual exploitation:
World Tourism Day 2021 provides an opportunity for governments and business, in cooperation with civil society organisations worldwide, to enhance tourism’s role in inclusive growth with child protection in focus.
The project “Developing travel & tourism with child protection in focus for a sustainable post COVID-19 pandemic recovery” is implemented with support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).