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Cassandra Clifford
Executive Director and Founder of BTFF

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Code: Up to Par?

Earlier this month, End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) revealed that Real Hospitality Group (RHG) became the first hotel management company in the US to sign the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, otherwise known as "The Code."  The Code, the result of years of international cooperation to comba t child sexual exploitation in the tourism industry, is a set of regulations that supports responsible tourism and efforts to eradicate commercial sexual exploitation of children. All participating companies must keep the following six criteria

1. To establish an ethical policy regarding commercial sexual exploitation of children.
2. To train the personnel in the country of origin and travel destinations.
3. To introduce a clause in contracts with suppliers, stating a common repudiation of commercial sexual exploitation of children.
4. To provide information to travelers by means of catalogues, brochures, in-flight films, ticket-slips, home pages, etc.
5. To provide information to local "key persons" at the destinations.
6. To report annually.

Well known companies such as Hilton, Delta and Carson are already on the list that comply with these regulations.  In 2004, Carlson became the first North American tourism company to provide a training kit for all staff with visual real-life scenario tools that could help them identify a victim if they encounter a situation of sexual exploitation.  The Code has been implemented in similar fashions in 960 tourism companies and in more than 40 countries

Although ECPAT considers it a "win" that certain industries, mainly hotels and tour operators, recognize the demand for the sexual exploitation of children does in fact undermine sustainable tourism, the organization also recognizes that the Code has a long way to go in putting an end to this issue within the tourism sector.  In 2006, it was estimated that there were 846 million international arrival and 4 billion domestic trips taken.  The Code has been effective in implementing some training and providing public awareness materials, but the issue of demand has still not been confronted and the switch to electronic booking has made traveling completely anonymous.  The battle over this issue must not only be embraced by the tourism community, but also by local, national and international governing bodies.  The Code is the largest voluntary step that can be taken to eradicate commercial sexual exploitation of children, but this standard needs to move from being a voluntary action to one of corporate responsibility.  To learn more about how you can be a part of that change and help create a sustainable, responsible tourism industry please click here.

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