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