Travel and trafficking: tackling the links between tourism and child sexual exploitation

International Summit on Child Protection in Travel and Tourism

The International Summit on Child Protection in Travel and Tourism brings together the global tourism business, law enforcement agencies, representatives of governments, the UN and civil society will agree on a long-term agenda that will end the sexual exploitation of children through the travel industry.

Together with several of our Child Helpline members, we’ve been attending the International Summit on Child Protection in Travel and Tourism, hosted by the Government of Colombia, ECPAT, UNICEF, the World Travel & Tourism Council and UNODC in Bogotá, Colombia this week. Here, more than 400 participants from 25 countries will agree to a plan – aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – to implement the recommendations of the Global Study on the Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism.

The travel and tourism sector has grown substantially in recent years. It contributes 10.4% to global GDP and provides for 1 in 10 jobs, with a 4% average annual growth forecast over the next 10 years. The UN World Tourism Organisation anticipates 1.8 billion travellers by 2030. The internet has made travel much easier, but it has also facilitated travelling child sex offenders seeking to exploit children. Many countries lack sufficient legislation to stop or deter these offenders, who often take advantage of poverty, social exclusion and weak laws that offer a culture of impunity.

Delegates at the Summit will sign a declaration pledging to raise awareness about the sexual exploitation of children, to tackle child trafficking, to adhere to codes of conduct, to regulate ‘voluntourism’ in institutions where children are present, and to increase the training of staff to recognise when children are in danger of being trafficked or sexually exploited. We’ll be urging governments, the private sector, law enforcement agencies, UN agencies and civil society organisations to better protect children from trafficking and travelling child sex offenders.