MEKONG TOURISM ADVISORY GROUP

Expert Group on Child Protection

Objective

To increase resilience and drive sustainability for the tourism industry in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) through addressing child protection issues.

Context

The international responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have a massive impact on the travel and tourism industry itself. At the same time, push factors that facilitate or lead to sexual exploitation of children, including the economic vulnerability of families have intensified. With people financially struggling due to the crisis, the circumstances are there to allow child sex offenders to gain trust and access their victims more easily than ever before, both online or through physical domestic and foreign travel. Sexual exploitation of children in the context of travel and tourism has not stopped with the closure of borders and travel restrictions. Travelling child sex offenders keep adapting their modus operandi when opportunities arise, contexts change and technologies evolve. There is evidence that transnational child sex offenders may transition their offending to an online environment and follow it up with travel to directly sexually abuse the same victims when travel restrictions are relaxed, therefore it is highly recommended to protect victims overseas.[1]

[1] Interpol, 2020. Threats and trends. Child sexual exploitation and abuse. COVID-19 Impact.

Areas of Work

Organise webinars/events

Encourage and demonstrate a firm commitment of the MeTAG towards responsible and sustainable development with child protection in focus in order to strengthen resilience of the countries and realign GMS tourism with the international standards, including the UNWTO Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics , ILO Convention No. 182 on worst forms of child labour, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 2030 Agenda.

Support governments to take action

Support governments to take action to improve existing national policies and laws related to child protection in travel and tourism with its online elements, based on identified gaps reflected in ECPAT International’s country analysis covering currently Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The country analysis is based on 24-points legal checklist that was endorsed by AIPA to encourage the AIPA Member States to effectively use the Legal Checklist as a mechanism to protect children’s rights.

Provide knowledge

Contribute to the governments’ meetings (upon invitation) to bring knowledge on the topic of child protection to the group that can act on it through putting policies in place and connecting members of the Child Protection Group to relevant key actors of change.

Support the private sector

Engage with the private sector in the region through activating supply chains to end the sexual exploitation of children; a practical example is The Code that supports the industry in implementing the six criteria to protect children from sexual exploitation, and is currently reviewing its voluntouirsm policy. The Code offers also e-learnings to the industry (the e-learning are available for different staff roles including flight attendants, hotels, transport) and will be available in several languages, including Thai and Chinese.

Identify areas of concern

Address the issue of orphanage tourism and certain forms of unregulated voluntourism in institutions that puts children at risk of sexual exploitation. The Code “Voluntourism Policy” is being developed, to which members of the Child Protection Group have provided input, along other regions. MeTAG members will be invited to the discussion on the topic, as part of the launch of the document scheduled in 2021.

Engage with institutions

Engage with schools and regional network of 14 vocational training centres to raise awareness about the issue of child protection and provide trainings.

Promote good practices

Promote actions and good practices from members of the Child Protection group at regional and international level.

Upcoming Events

No Events

Chair
Gabriela Kühn

ECPAT International

Vice-Chair
Sophie Hartman

Regional Platform Coordinator, ASSET-H&C

Members

Membership is open to all MeTAG members, representatives of governments, the private sector and NGOs committed to child protection (can, but do not need to be experts on the topic); it can be expanded to external experts that are not part of the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group but can contribute to the discussion.

Please contact us to inquire about membership to this group.

Mandate
Founded
Inquiries
Resources

Objective

To increase resilience and drive sustainability for the tourism industry in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) through addressing child protection issues.

Context

The international responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have a massive impact on the travel and tourism industry itself. At the same time, push factors that facilitate or lead to sexual exploitation of children, including the economic vulnerability of families have intensified. With people financially struggling due to the crisis, the circumstances are there to allow child sex offenders to gain trust and access their victims more easily than ever before, both online or through physical domestic and foreign travel. Sexual exploitation of children in the context of travel and tourism has not stopped with the closure of borders and travel restrictions. Travelling child sex offenders keep adapting their modus operandi when opportunities arise, contexts change and technologies evolve. There is evidence that transnational child sex offenders may transition their offending to an online environment and follow it up with travel to directly sexually abuse the same victims when travel restrictions are relaxed, therefore it is highly recommended to protect victims overseas.[1]

[1] Interpol, 2020. Threats and trends. Child sexual exploitation and abuse. COVID-19 Impact.

Areas of Work

Organise webinars/events

Encourage and demonstrate a firm commitment of the MeTAG towards responsible and sustainable development with child protection in focus in order to strengthen resilience of the countries and realign GMS tourism with the international standards, including the UNWTO Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics , ILO Convention No. 182 on worst forms of child labour, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 2030 Agenda.

Support governments to take action

Support governments to take action to improve existing national policies and laws related to child protection in travel and tourism with its online elements, based on identified gaps reflected in ECPAT International’s country analysis covering currently Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The country analysis is based on 24-points legal checklist that was endorsed by AIPA to encourage the AIPA Member States to effectively use the Legal Checklist as a mechanism to protect children’s rights.

Provide knowledge

Contribute to the governments’ meetings (upon invitation) to bring knowledge on the topic of child protection to the group that can act on it through putting policies in place and connecting members of the Child Protection Group to relevant key actors of change.

Support the private sector

Engage with the private sector in the region through activating supply chains to end the sexual exploitation of children; a practical example is The Code that supports the industry in implementing the six criteria to protect children from sexual exploitation, and is currently reviewing its voluntouirsm policy. The Code offers also e-learnings to the industry (the e-learning are available for different staff roles including flight attendants, hotels, transport) and will be available in several languages, including Thai and Chinese.

Identify areas of concern

Address the issue of orphanage tourism and certain forms of unregulated voluntourism in institutions that puts children at risk of sexual exploitation. The Code “Voluntourism Policy” is being developed, to which members of the Child Protection Group have provided input, along other regions. MeTAG members will be invited to the discussion on the topic, as part of the launch of the document scheduled in 2021.

Engage with institutions

Engage with schools and regional network of 14 vocational training centres to raise awareness about the issue of child protection and provide trainings.

Promote good practices

Promote actions and good practices from members of the Child Protection group at regional and international level.

Upcoming Events

No Events

Chair
Gabriela Kühn

ECPAT International

Vice-Chair
Sophie Hartman

Regional Platform Coordinator, ASSET-H&C

Members

Membership is open to all MeTAG members, representatives of governments, the private sector and NGOs committed to child protection (can, but do not need to be experts on the topic); it can be expanded to external experts that are not part of the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group but can contribute to the discussion.

Please contact us to inquire about membership to this group.

Mandate
Founded
Inquiries
Resources

How you can support us

Inform us about areas of concern in child protection, let us know about best practices, or connect with us as a partner to stop exploitation of children.

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