We at people and places are proud and pleased to be finally supporting The Code officially.
The Code is an industry-driven initiative with the mission to provide awareness, tools and support to the tourism industry to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.
“The Code encourages the practice of responsible, sustainable tourism by tourism companies from around the world. By enacting responsible policies, members of The Code play an essential role in protecting children from the sexual exploitation that is particularly prevalent in this industry. In addition, The Code exists in order to inform travelers that child sex exploitation is never okay, no matter what country they visit.”
All the of the projects with which we work are in economically poor communities – most projects involve work with vulnerable children and adults. This is also true for most other volunteer recruitment organisations.
We know that the vast majority of travelers – and the organisations that facilitate their travel – have only the best interests of the vulnerable children they may meet at heart.
Although tourism is not the cause of crimes against children, offenders utilise the services and infrastructure of the tourism industry to carry out their crimes. Offenders can and do gain easy access to children in economically poor countries – the very communities where most volunteer organisations operate.
We believe we have a responsibility to do all we can towards the protection of children . We have had child protection policies in place for some time. The Code will help us improve these policies.
Nowhere is responsible travel more important than in the area of child protection and the prevention of abuse.
Sexual exploitation is a complex danger to address – it is not just about paedophilia – what about other dangers which could and do make vulnerable children easy targets for such predators: the removal of children from their communities to spurious orphanages; the use of children to beg from and sell to tourists; and particularly pertinent to volunteering, the deep psychological damage that can result when vulnerable children become attached to individuals in a stream of ever changing short term volunteers.
For all too long we have failed as an industry to openly and honestly address child protection issues – happily, this is changing – and organisations such as The Code deserve kudos for bringing about that change. World Travel Market deserves serious credit too – last year there were sessions on child protection on World Responsible Travel Day – watch the session here.
This year the World Responsible Tourism Awards recognise the importance of this issue with a new category of awards: ‘Best for Child Protection’. The winners will be announced at WTM on 6th November.
So I am looking forward to meeting and talking with industry peers to see how we can achieve more examples of good practice – we have a responsibility to hold the mirror up to ourselves and demand that we do better.