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Child Welfare and the Travel Industry – Global Good Practice Guidelines

Categories: Human Rights, People and Places
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As the demand for experiential travel and social, cultural, and community-based tourism grows, so do the risk factors for children as well as potential risks for your staff and reputation. Children deserve and need the power of the tourism industry and associated businesses to adopt approaches that not only recognize their vulnerability but also seek to mitigate risks to them. Most of the time these risks are solely linked to possible sexual exploitation and/or abuse, but there are other harm factors that the industry needs to work to address. For example, is your business considerate of how you use images of children in marketing and advertising? Do your products include activities with potential negative impacts, such as visiting schools or orphanages? Do your clients know that giving money to (or buying gifts from) a begging child is harmful?

In 2017, ChildSafe partnered with G Adventures and Planeterra Foundation to develop practical, international guidelines for the travel industry to use within their own companies and initiatives, a first of their kind. They extend beyond obviously harmful behaviors and expose the potential negative effects of common, well-intentioned efforts.

There are 15 guidelines organized under four sections to offer businesses a structured approach for implementation:

  1. Guidelines to ensure your company is able to prevent and respond to child abuse arising from tourism interactions
  2. Guidelines for your products and services to have the best impact on children
  3. Guidelines to ensure your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives are reinforcing child welfare
  4. Guidelines for implementation

These guidelines have been developed to provide a common understanding of child welfare issues throughout the travel industry and to provide all travel businesses with guidance to prevent all forms of exploitation and abuse of children that could be related to travelers and the tourism industry. In short, they will enable you to do more good through your business.

 

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Credit: Shutterstock

By Dr. Peter Tarlow from Tourism & More

TOURISM & MORE’S  “TOURISM TIDBITS”

March 2018

With the Northern Hemisphere’s winter soon to become spring, on some level tourism officials can take a sigh of relief that there were no major pandemics. This season was however in many parts of the world an extremely difficult flu season that resulted in a great deal of discomfort, days missed at work, and even in some extreme cases deaths.

Tourism is especially vulnerable to contagious illnesses. People are in close contact, often both tourism employees and travelers are subjected to filtered, rather than fresh air. Additionally we are all subject to issues of jet lag, disrupted sleep patters and irregular eating. In some of the less well paid tourism jobs employees fear losing a day’s pay if they stay home when ill, come to work sick, and then infect others.

If travel were not hard enough on a person’s body, there are still other problems that must be taken into consideration. For example, hygiene standards are not the same around the world. The traveler often has no way of knowing the level of cleanliness in a restaurant, if waiters and waitresses wash their hands enough and with soap and hot water. People staying at hotels have no way of knowing the quality of the mattress upon which they are sleeping or the condition of the air ducts that bring air conditioning into their room.

Additionally a sick chambermaid may infect a visitor’s room while cleaning it or become ill from a person who is staying in the room and has infected that room by sneezing or coughing. Examples of some of these health and wellness challenges can be seen in problems experienced within the cruise industry due to the Nordau virus, or in tourism buildings due to legionary’s disease,

Tourism promotes travel and schedules are built around the assumption of wellness. A traveler cannot change an airline reservation due to a cold or feeling sick, a person’s hotel reservation may force that person to check out rather than rest, and often it is not easy to find a place to eat at odd hours of the day. Finally, in many parts of the world, it may not easy to find an international doctor, the local health agency may not accept foreign health insurance, and language problems may make it difficult for the ill person to describe his or her problem to the local health professional. These same problems do not only apply to leisure and business travelers, but also to first responders, international aid workers, and government agents. Often these people are so involved in their labors of love that they forget that they too are fragile human beings who are also subject to illnesses. In order to help you think about caring for your visitors and at the same time caring for yourself, Tourism Tidbits presents to you the following ideas.

  • Develop a tourism health task force. Keeping visitors and tourism employees healthy is different from keeping local populations healthy. Visitors have less information and often more stress than the local population. The task force should consider everything from medical availability to problems of foreign health insurance. It should also look at local sanitation and hygiene issues, and how visitors can access pharmacies without having a local physician.
  • Work with the local media. The can be great allies or become a major problem. There is always a need to have the media aid in spreading information, but this must be done in a way that neither panics the public nor become a problem in and of itself. The example of the SARS reporting a few years ago is a perfect example of what not to do. In that case, misreporting about an illness caused a great deal of economic damage and made the problem worse rather than better.
  • Involve government agencies in your overall health plan. Many tourism related illnesses are interrelated to issues of clean air and water. Be mindful of where garbage is stored and even first world tourism locations often suffer from rodent infestations. These of course are also essential issues for the local population but the visitor is more prone to local diseases due to water and air pollution. Visitors often do not know if they can drink local water, how long water has been boiled before being served or if ice cubes have been made from purified water. It is the responsibility of the tourist industry to inform visitors of these precautions rather than assuming that a tired traveler will know to ask.
  • Have a plan in place regarding the way that you will deal with travel related mental heath problems. Travel produces stress and stress may result in additional mental illnesses that may range from personal behavior issues to psychotic behavior. Often people believe that being in a new location will solve an anxiety or stress problem. The results are usually to the contrary. This means that tourism professionals need to know whom to call when faced with a person suffering from some form of mental health challenge. Often these problems are made worse by the fact that the person has no support system in place and that the visitor may not be able to communicate in the local language.
  • Take care of yourself. The airline industry reminds us to put on our oxygen mask before helping others. Their advice is both sound and sage. The tourist professional cannot take care of others if s/he is sick. This means that tourism professionals need to take flue shots, eat correctly, assure that they have enough rest, and see a medical expert for regular check-ups. The better the tourism professional feels the better that person can handle the stress that comes with caring for others.
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White Men in Suits at ITB panels – part 2. Time to tackle the lack of diversity at tourism events

Categories: Blog Posts, Gender
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by Marta Mills (oneplanetblog.com), sustainable tourism specialist and sustainability adviser for the Transcaucasian Trail

 

 

 

Exactly a year ago after ITB Berlin 2017, I wrote White Men in Suits and Sustainable Tourism for PATA’s Sustainability Blog, referring to the nationality, race and gender imbalance of speakers at ITB, but also at other conferences and events in the tourism industry. Has anything changed at ITB2018?

The only non-male panel at ITB CSR Day, 9 March 2018. Still pretty imbalanced.

This article is not meant to provide solutions but simply describe a status quo in relation to the inequality. And I have nothing against people wearing suits. But in this context, the suits represent the (mostly) white men who spend their time behind a desk in a city office block as opposed to working on the ground in tourism destinations. They know how to manage big tourism or airline companies, or are respected academics, but often have little practical knowledge that could then be worth sharing with destination practitioners during ITB panel discussions.

Quick look back at 2017

The whole CSR programme of events last year showed the lack of inclusiveness and balance, but there was one particular session (“How Can Sustainable Travel Offers Be Marketed Successfully?”) that prompted me to write. Seven white men in suits, six Germans and one English, discussing sustainability in tourism.  How ironic.

The “White Men in Suits” panel on sustainable travel at ITB 2017

I wanted (and still want) to find out who and how makes the final decision on the structure of the panels, and why there seem to be the same speakers year after year. Is it really that hard to find a women specialist, or someone from the southern hemisphere? Neither in 2017 nor in 2018 ITB responded to my questions.

Hopes for 2018

Considering a few significant events that sparked the worldwide debate on gender inequality – the Harvey Weinstein case of sexual abuse allegations, the #MeToo movement, now the most recent outrage at unequal pay at the BBC, to name a few – I hoped that the situation at ITB might change this year.

Also, in the written foreword to the  CSR Program, Rika Jean-François, the ITB CSR Commissioner, mentioned that in 2018, the tourism industry will have to deal with numerous challenges, including “gender inequality and discrimination due to sexual orientation (…) If we see how many seminars are still dominated by men, even in the sustainability sector, we must invite women to raise their voice – women are definitively carrying half of heaven on their shoulders”. Wise words. But…

 ITB 2018

Take the panelists for the CSR Program 2018. In Hall 4.1 (Responsible/Adventure Travel hall) on the Big Stage, there were 95 men and 44 women (7-9 March). Discussions in Halls 7.1 saw 78 men and 22 women. But during the ITB CSR Day (!) there were 16 male panelists and only one woman. Three out of four sessions had men-only panels. The last had five men and that one woman. All except two men were German, all were white. Er… Unbelievable?

At the end of this last session, its moderator Matthias Beyer who also moderated last year’s aforementioned “all-men-in-suits” session, pointed out that „one woman joining the panel this year is an improvement but certainly it is not satisfactory“.

Recycled speakers

And if we are comparing these both sessions moderated by Matthias:  three of the panellist were on both panels. That again made me think: who and how selects the panels for ITB? Is there a pool of “recycled speakers” that are always invited, based on some unwritten – or maybe written, somewhere – criteria? Surely, these speakers are experts in their area, but also, surely, there are so many others that never get approached. Why not? Do the organisers even want to go that extra step and go beyond the old, recycled bunch?

Matthias Beyer, Prof. Dr. Edgar Kreilkamp and Norbert Fiebig, participants of panels in 2017 and 2018

 “Others take the decision”

„In general, I totally agree with you that ITB panels require a much better balance in terms of race, nationality and gender“, Matthias Beyer said. I asked him whether he had any say in the selection of the speakers on his panels. „The influence for me as a moderator is limited. I can make suggestions but others take the decision. In 2018 my whole panel was fixed before I came into play“.

Can he refuse to moderate such imbalanced sessions? „To refuse a moderation is certainly an option but then you lose any influence. I prefer to remain involved and to try my very best to initiate and encourage changes“, he said.

OK, so „others take the decion“. That made me think, again, who …

ITB, wake up!

I want to emphasize again that the worldwide perspective doesn’t only come from the European, white middle-aged men in suits. Particularly during debates on supposedly more inclusive and fairer sustainable tourism. When will ITB, WTM and other big events start taking notice?

Does Rika have any impact on the composition of the panels, at least for the CSR Day? If not her, then who?

Hopes for 2019?

 Rika admitted that she was “totally aware of the unbalanced number of female and male speakers at the ITB Convention. I can assure you that I am also trying to change this and as CSR commissioner have discussed the phenomena also with our teams and the relevant co-organizers and scientific directors”.  She added: “You can be sure that I will work on it and readdress it again and again. This is one reason why I initiated the Gender Equality Seminar during ITB 2018 -as a start of a new series. We will support the dialogue and we will keep on going.”

 One seminar is a step in the right direction, but it is a tiny drop in the ocean. I’d like to see more inclusion and more diversity on other panels that not necessarily devoted to gender equality! Is it so much to ask to have a mix across the board to discuss a variety of topics, so this issue of imbalance and inequality doesn’t draw attention and it is not an issue anymore?

Let’s see if I am here this time next year, complaining about white European men in suits at ITB 2019.

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author(s) and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) or any employee thereof. We make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability or validity of any information presented by individual authors and/or commenters on our blogs and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.

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Credit: WWF on medium.com

As Earth Hour 2018 approaches, Jochem Verberne, Director of Global Partnerships at WWF, sets out how companies can put nature at the heart of business for mutual benefit.

For Earth Hour 2018, at 8.30pm local time on March 24th, we are inviting the world to #Connect2Earth to spark a global conversation about our relationship with nature and how we can live more sustainably.

For business, this means asking what your company or sector can do for nature and sustainability rather than what they can do for you, and how enterprise can serve purpose and responsibility.

At WWF, we accompany partners on a transformative journey — from mapping environmental risks and opportunities, through developing joint initiatives, to catalysing sector-wide change and restoring life on Earth.

Read the full article here and find out more about seven ways your business can take the journey toward sustainability, e.g. understanding material impacts and exposure to environmental risk is the starting point.

By WWF for Medium.

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Maya Bay is one of Thailand’s most famous beaches but worries over damage to its coral reefs will close it during low season to help it recover. Photograph: ColorPlayer/Getty Images

The bucket-list beach on the island of Koh Phi Phi Leh became famous when it featured in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, but environmental concerns mean it will close to tourists from June

It is one of the world’s most famous beaches, thanks to its starring role in Danny Boyle’s film of Alex Garland’s bestselling novel, and is often referred to simply as “the beach”. However, this summer Maya Bay, on the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi Leh, will be closed to tourists as authorities attempt to reverse decades of damage done to the region’s marine environment.

The closure will take place from June to September, during the island’s low season, in order to give its coral reef time to recover. While similar measures have been introduced on other Thai islands – in 2016 local authorities closed Koh Tachai – it is the first time tourists will be forbidden from visiting Maya Bay.

Read the full article here.

By  for The Guardian.

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Photo credit: Shutterstock

Sharing has become a main driver for our economy. Using underutilised assets allows us to improve efficiency, sustainability and community. Through user-generated web content, and with the growing popularity of renting goods rather than buying them, consumers are becoming increasingly savvy, connected, and conscious.

Here are some ways to become a part of this movement:

  • Check out these 14 pioneers of the “share economy” to learn more about what’s out there already.
  • Break it down to a more personal level and incorporate sharing in your everyday life to improve your sustainability efforts on a smaller scale yet with a bigger and long lasting impact.

Do you want to go on a journey to become more sustainable or even ultimately adapt a zero waste lifestyle, but don’t know where to start? Sharing knowledge and tips within a community of like-minded people is the key to success. Consider these three steps to get rolling:

  1. Get to know your neighbourhood: Explore the area you live in to see which services and goods are available locally. Visit nearby markets and keep your eyes open for small businesses that offer local and organic products but may not necessarily have their own brick and mortar store.
  2. Attend events to learn and connect: Browse for festivals, workshops or other sustainability-related events in your neighbourhood or city. Make sure to green your commute when you go. This is an opportunity to connect with local businesses offering organic or sustainable sourced goods and services. Building relationships is essential in the process of creating a stronger community, as knowledge and updates can be shared and accessed more easily in the future. Contribute to the conversation by sharing what you have previously discovered and learned about your neighbourhood.
  3. Grow your community: Raise awareness about causes that matter to you and invite friends and family to join you in an initiative, challenge or at the next event. Start conversations that encourage others to rethink their own behaviour and actions, and support them to change and improve their lifestyles in a sustainable matter.

Walking the talk is not always easy and you may face difficulties, but remember that together you can tackle every challenge more easily!

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Credit: SAIH – The Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund

Volunteering programs are expanding rapidly. An increasing number of people spend their holidays or gap years traveling, while at the same time doing something meaningful and different. Language and images can either divide and make stereotypical descriptions – or unify, clarify and create nuanced descriptions of the complex world we live in. It can be difficult to present other people and the surroundings accurately in a brief social media post. Even though harm is not intended, many volunteers and travelers end up sharing images and text that portray local residents as passive, helpless and pitiful – feeding the stereotypical imagery instead of breaking them down. This is your go-to guide before and during your trip. Use these four guiding principles to ensure that you avoid the erosion of dignity and respect the right to privacy while documenting your experiences abroad.

Read the full article on RADI-AID’s principles for social media here and watch their video ‘How to avoid acting like a white savior’ here.

By SAIH – The Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund for RADI-AID.

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Credit: Travindy

The Republic of Palau in the Western Pacific has today launched the Palau Pledge, a world-first eco-initiative that asks all inbound visitors to make a compulsory promise, directly to the children of Palau, to preserve their home before they can enter the country.

The Palau Pledge is a new immigration policy that takes effect this December. Palau has become the first country to update its immigration policy and landing procedures to implement such legislation, aimed at preserving its culture and the beauty of its natural environment for future generations. It also hopes that other countries will follow suit to protect the planet for children worldwide.

The Palau Pledge is based on the Palauan tradition of BUL, a moratorium declared by Palau’s traditional leaders that places an immediate halt to the over-consumption or destruction of a species, place or thing.

Find out more about the Palau Pledge by reading the full article here.

By Travindy for Travindy.

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Guide maps being explained to blind travellers (Credit: The Independent)

One travel company is breaking down barriers and providing opportunities for everyone to explore India

Imagine travelling 2,000km across the country to see a temple you’ve dreamt of visiting, only to discover your family can’t get in. There is no wheelchair access – so your visually impaired father has to carry your wheelchair-bound mother up and down several dozen steps in order to pay homage.

It happened to Neha Arora as a child. Barring the odd school picnic or the visit to grandparents, she has no fond travel memories. It is not that her parents did not like to travel. It is just that, with their special needs, they found it near impossible.

Three decades ago, India was not the friendliest place for travellers with accessibility needs. In 2017, it still isn’t.

Read the full article on why Arora created Planet Abled here.

By Charukesi Ramadurai for The Independent.

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Credit: Shutterstock

 

What does sustainability mean to you personally? How can you engage with issues such as poverty or sustainable consumption that relate to the SDGs?

One approach may be to start by looking at your individual values and establishing a personal sustainability action plan. This should be an achievable, realistic plan to take on a short-term project that you believe in that can lead to a more sustainable lifestyle! Identify changes you would like to make in your daily or weekly activities and start to practice these changes until they become a habit. When establishing your personal sustainability plan, check that it meets the RISE criteria: is it repeatable, inspirational, sustainable, and enjoyable?

There’s no reason to wait till the New Year to make a resolution! Raise awareness now, and take action! Inspire others to join the movement. Remember that challenging yourself or someone else can make a big impact through building strong communities of passionate and like-minded people. Be creative and come up with a plan to make the most of the last month of 2017. For example, how about trying to live a…

FREEcember

…with possible action points such as the following:

  • Try a new approach to your diet: how about a meat-free Monday or milk-/dairy-free week? A dietary shift can help to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately have the positive environmental impact you would like to make.
  • Go plastic-free: shop at a local market to avoid unnecessary packaging, use a reusable water bottle, coffee mug or lunch box and most importantly, say no to using plastic bags! You will help keeping our precious world clean and wildlife safe.
  • Spend a gadget-free Sunday: include some time to unplug and disconnect when planning your weekend or your next getaway.  
  • Enjoy a car-free weekend: if you are relying on your car to commute to work during the week, give your car a rest on the weekend and cut carbon emissions by using public transport or a bicycle to get around. This little change will help to reduce pollution from engines and improve air quality.

 

If this is something you are already doing, maybe you find some more idea with a

DOcember

  • Stay healthy: start a fitness– or yoga-challenge, join a gym class or simply take the stairs instead of an elevator whenever possible.
  • Start a 5-minute journal to become more mindful and live with intention.
  • Recycle and upcycle with do-it-yourself projects to reduce waste to landfill and to reduce waste generated in manufacturing processes! You can also donate unwanted clothes or other household items to a charity to help people in need.
  • Carry a reusable shopping bag with you every day, and keep a reusable drinking cup at your office to purchase your after-lunch refreshment in a eco-friendly way.

 

Your passion is the fire that fuels your action, so keep helpful reminders about why you want to live more sustainably. We dare you to establish a sustainability plan that can help guide your way to a more eco-conscious lifestyle.

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