As tourism continues to grow globally, particularly in South East Asia, it is becoming increasingly urgent to consider its impact on local communities, particular where this relates to child exploitation. This is why UNWTO and World Vision East Asia Regional Office have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, forging a partnership aimed at fighting the exploitation of children in the tourism sector (17 April 2014).
The MOU aims to enhance the collaboration between UNWTO and World Vision (WV), a relief, development and advocacy organization working to protect children from exploitation, trafficking and abuse.
Areas of future cooperation between UNWTO and WV include the promotion of tools, good practices and case studies to support child protection in tourism, comprising the WV-coordinated Child Safe Tourism Campaign, endorsed by the governments of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam, which informs travellers on the actions they can take to protect children and young people from abuse in tourism destinations. The Campaign is part of Project Childhood, an initiative funded by the Australian Government to combat the sexual exploitation of children in tourism in the Mekong sub-region.
UNWTO has been working in the same sphere through the World Tourism Network on Child Protection (formerly the Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism) for more than 15 years now. Set to prevent all forms of child and youth exploitation within the tourism sector, the Network serves as a platform for tourism stakeholders and other relevant actors to exchange experiences and promote the adoption of responsible policies and business practices in line with the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.
“The growth of the tourism sector brings important development opportunities, but also immense challenges, affecting namely the most vulnerable groups of society. Children and youth are particularly at risk, and it is imperative that the tourism sector stakeholders work together to tackle the pressing issue of child exploitation. World Vision has always been appreciated as a very committed and active partner of the UNWTO World Tourism Network on Child Protection and we are very happy to be able to join our efforts in fighting such a hideous practice as child exploitation” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
“In South East Asia, World Vision has a number of programs dedicated to reducing harm to children from abuse, exploitation and trafficking, including in the tourism sector. Tourism is growing rapidly in this region bringing many opportunities as well as some risks to children. For this reason we are pleased to be joining forces with UNWTO in our joint sustainable approach to child safe tourism” said World Vision East Asia Director for Integrated Ministry Warren Climenhaga.
Years ago, when I first visited Washington DC, I was amazed to see that the vast majority of the tourists wondering around the city, with such excitement, were actually Americans from other cities and states within America. It really made me to yearn to see the same in Africa.
I would love to see a day, and I know it will come, when Africa’s tourism is driven by Africans from other African countries. This is not to say, I do not want to see tourists from other parts of the world; I do, because tourism is great for any economy.
Africans need to travel, in Africa.
The Ghanian writer Kofi Opoku, says:
“Do not say that your mother’s stew is the best in the world, if you have never left your village”.
We need to see more and more Africans, of all ages, traveling in Africa, as tourists. I would like to see more exchange programs between African countries for students, at all levels.
Someone once asked me, if I would like to see a certain movie, and I said yes, but when he asked me to go to the cinema with him, I replied by saying, ” it is worth seeing, but not worth paying to see!” For many of us, visiting other parts of Africa, is something we do as part of our work, but to plan a voluntary visit to an African country using one’s own money? Well that is something that Europeans, Americans, and now increasingly Chinese and others do, because they have money… Right? Wrong!!!
………….I have met taxi drivers in London who visit Africa on holiday!
Almost every day of the week, I meet investors and business associates who are keen to invest in Africa. They are either looking for partners who know Africa, or to hire professionals who also know Africa.
The truth of the matter is such people are not as many as one might think. It is a really small pool for a continent as large and diverse as ours.
As a young African, your success and prosperity over the next few years, will depend to a great extent on how well, you know other African countries, other than your own country.
Such knowledge does not come embedded in your brain, it comes only through reading about African countries, listening to news about Africa, and traveling in Africa.
Seven of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world today, are African. If you want to be part of this growing prosperity, now is the time to really determine in your heart to become a true expert of Africa. Even if you do not have money yet to visit African countries, there are many things you can do every day to improve your knowledge. One of them is to read news from other African countries on the Internet. Everyday, I read Online news from different African countries.
Its time to visit Africa.