In connection with our South East Asia theme in January, Responsible Travel tell us about the role of hotels when it comes to child protection in tourism, with a focus on Cambodia.
Child protection continues to be a major theme across the tourism industry. In 2013 the World Responsible Tourism Awards introduced a ‘Best for Child Protection’ category, and at World Travel Market, London in November 2014 the main debate on World Responsible Tourism Day was on the topic of child protection, and how the industry can do more to take responsibility for it.
In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge regime left many without education, and with little access to income and healthcare desperate families turn to more insalubrious ‘solutions’ – often including the sex trade, human trafficking and child abuse. And tourism has its part to play. In Siem Reap, gateway to the famous ruins of Angkor Wat, there are 35 orphanages serving a population of just 100,000 people, a number which has increased with a rise in tourism as unscrupulous owners see a profit in volunteer fees and tourist donations. Shockingly a 2010 report suggested that only about a quarter of Cambodian children in orphanages are actually orphans, others placed in residential care by parents struggling to care for them, tempted by idea of a western-style education and promises of a brighter future.
Although tourism may be exacerbating child exploitation, in countries such as Cambodia and Thailand responsible, careful tourism has the potential to make a real, positive difference in reducing it too. In order for a more caring, child-conscious industry to grow, each stakeholder in it must shoulder their part of the responsibility – from individual tourists to tour operators, taxi-drivers, restaurant owners and hoteliers. At the crossroads between local people and international guess hotels are uniquely placed to play a key role in this process.
Read more at Green Hotelier!