Together building a child-safe tourism

Child-Safe Tourism volunteers inspire AEPF delegations, guests, travelers to give attention to child-safe tourism campaign. After a one-day training on volunteerism, child protection, child abuse and child sexual exploitation, 20 volunteers from the National University of Laos were sent out on the street to provide a warmest greeting to AEPF delegations, guests and travelers with a integrated brochure handing key messages on child-safe traveler tips.

“The politeness with a warmest greeting from the volunteer inspiring me to give attention and read a small leaflet,” one of AEPF delegations from Thailand expresses his opinion to volunteer’s work on child-safe tourism campaign.

“I’m very pound to be part of this campaign. Apart from the theory training, the campaign teaches me to be patient and flexible to work with deferent target audiences as well as improve my communication skills,”says Duangmany Niyomsin, a student from the National University of Laos, who volunteers for child-safe tourism campaign.

The Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEPF) held from 16-19 October 2012 and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) planned for 5-6 November 2012 in Vientiane will attract up to 48 heads of state and over 600 journalists to Laos. Additionally, with 2012 dubbed “Visit Laos Year”.

The government of Laos, department of Tourist Marketing, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, and Department of Human Trafficking Prevention, Ministry of Public Security, used an opportunity to build up a team with the National University of Laos, UN agencies, international government organisations and non-profit partners to promote child-safe tourism practices throughout the AEPF and ASEM period.

The objective of this campaign is to promote child-safe tourism practices in Laos among tourists and ASEM delegations with key messages including: how to promote child safety while traveling, how to respond if see a signs of exploitation and promote awareness of child protection in tourism among AEPF/ASEM international delegations and journalists.

As part of this educational campaign, customs and border control officials will distribute informational materials at the Wattay International Airport and the First Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge for all international arrivals.

In addition, the government of Laos and its partners would continue its efforts to address these risk factors through various development angles.”Child-safe Tourism” is a major focus for the Lao Government in further developing its Law on Tourism.

Child sex tourism is defined as a criminal act which often involves a person buying a child for the purpose of sexual exploitation when they are traveling. Today, this is more commonly referred to as “child sexual exploitation in tourism” to include those tourists whose primary purpose of travel may not be initially or primarily to abuse children, but who engage in this criminal activity when presented with the opportunity.

The tourism sector in Laos is developing rapidly, creating issues of both supply and demand for child sexual exploitation in tourism. As described in a COMMIT Lao PDR country report, “increasing tourism in a developing country can bring valuable revenue but with more tourists and there may be new channels for exploitation with additional pressure on stretched or developing systems.”For this reason, there is a valuable opportunity to promote prevention of child protection in tourism industry as Laos increasingly becomes a center of international tourism.

Source: KPL Lao News Agency