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Protection of Children and Adolescents in Restarting the Tourism Sector

On August 4, a webinar was organized by the Down to Zero Alliance on reinitiating travel and tourism in Latin America with a focus on the protection of children and adolescents from sexual exploitation. Representatives evaluated the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector against the progress made to date in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation.

Protection of Children and Adolescents in Restarting the Tourism Sector

Increase in Physical and Psychological Aggression

The first thing mentioned was the inescapable impact of the pandemic on children and adolescents. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been an increase in physical and psychological aggression towards children and adolescents. Furthermore, access to health and education has become limited which can increase the inequality gap in the region.

Tourism Sector: Don’t Neglect Social Responsibility

The second issue which was discussed was the impact of COVID-19 on the travel and tourism sector, especially on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Many SMEs have been forced to close their business, reduce staff and seek help from governments to continue operating.

Ricardo Valdés suggested governments to support the travel and tourism sector without neglecting the demand for social responsibility and protection of children and adolescents from the sector. This is important since the sexual exploitation of girls, boys and adolescents – either online or offline – linked to travel and tourism has had a high increase in recent years in Latin America.

Joint Declaration on Protection of Children and Adolescents

The panelists agreed to commit through a joint declaration, to maintain the protection of children and adolescents as a primary consideration during the recovery phase of the sector. The declaration emphasizes “to strengthen national mobilization to promote sustainable and responsible destinations, work on awareness and coordination, and enhance institutional capacities”. Participants mentioned that the protection of children and adolescents must be approached from various angles, such as the public sector and the private sector. An example of how this can be done is the application of codes of conduct, a tool for companies to ensure collaboration and social co-responsibility.

Coverage All Over Latin America

The event was led by guests representatives of the tourism sector such as: Karina Baldovino, Executive Technical Secretary of GARA (Uruguay), Karol Fajardo, Director of the District Institute of Tourism (Colombia), Nohora Aguilera, Operations Manager of the Hotel de la Opera (Colombia) and Eduardo Sevilla, General Manager of CANATUR (Peru). Likewise, partners from the Down to Zero Alliance, Stella Cárdenas, Executive Director of Renacer Foundation (Colombia) and Ricardo Valdés, Executive Director of Alternative Human and Social Capital (Peru) participated.
128 people participated in the webinar and the webinar obtained more than 2,000 reproductions from Argentina, Bolivia, Chili, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
The event was broadcast on the ECPAT International Facebook page.

About Down to Zero and the work of ICCO

The Down to Zero Alliance aims to eradicate commercial sexual exploitation of children in ten countries of Asia and Latin America. It is a collaboration between Terre des Hommes Netherlands, Defense for Children-ECPAT, Free a Girl, ICCO and Plan International Netherlands. Following the same line, ICCO seeks to contribute to the reduction of poverty and inequality, ensuring sustainable livelihoods, justice, dignity and security. As part of its work, ICCO supports the Regional Vuela Libre (Free Fly) movement initiative which has the objective of children and adolescents free from commercial sexual exploitation. Currently, this movement has a presence in Peru, Colombia, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Bolivia. In each country, the Vuela Libre Movement is promoted by a main partner: Renacer Foundation in Colombia, CHS – Alternativo in Peru, TESIS in Nicaragua, Grupo Luna Nueva in Paraguay and Munasim Kullakita Fundation in Bolivia.