On 16 February 2018, the International Children’s Center convened a “Child-Friendly Tourism Dialogue Meeting” in Ankara, Turkey. The conference was opened by Prof. Tomris Türmen, President of the International Children’s Center.
Over 70 participants representing the private sector, academia and civil society organisations participated in the conference. Best practices from Turkey were presented by Mehmet Uygun, “WOW Bodrum Resort Hotel” Deputy Manager, Zekeriya Şen “Fest Travel” Travel Agency Manager and Kadirhan Kestaneci, SKAL International Bodrum Board Member. They agreed there is a need to work towards child protection in travel and tourism and strengthen the response of the Turkish private sector.
The panel discussion on Child-Friendly Tourism Principles and Development of Child Protection Policy in Travel and Tourism included: Alanya Touristic Managers Association, Association of Turkish Travel Agencies, Tourism Hotel Managers Association, Turkish Union of Tourist Guides, Ankara Touristic Hoteliers Association and SKAL International: Travel and Tourism Professionals Organization. The discussion concluded that there is a need within the private sector to develop a set of industry standards as well to develop procedures in order to report suspected cases of child sexual exploitation, not only to hear about them in the news.
Michael Rupp, Head of Section, Civil Society, Fundamental Rights, Judiciary and Home Affairs from the Delegation of the European Union to Turkey, underlined that enhancing children’s rights is a priority for Turkey, but there is a room for improvement as, in the current political situation, the space for children’s rights is shrinking in Turkey.
In this context, the International Children’s Center in Ankara is working with the private sector on developing child protection policies and becoming members of The Code to help protect children.
Gabriela Kühn, ECPAT International’s Head of Programme on SECTT also participated in the conference and made a presentation on the prevention of violence against children in travel and tourism, including implementation of The Code’s six criteria. WOW Bodrum Resort Hotel, the signatory of The Code that participated in the conference has expressed an interest in sharing their experiences during the upcoming International Summit on Child Protection in Travel and Tourism Bogotá DC, Colombia, June 6-7, 2018.