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PROGRESS AGAINST SEX TOURISM

February 5, 2001 · 

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An encouraging case study – curbing sex tourism: Many ‘sex tourists’ deliberately travel abroad to have sex with children because they believe it is legal and culturally acceptable. But there is also hope in the fact that advocates like ECPAT have succeeded in engaging airlines, governments, and travel agencies in their work.

By 1995, international travel trade associations representing hotels and restaurants, travel agents and airlines had all passed resolutions
condemning child sex tourism. In 1996, the World Tourism Organization established Child Prostitution and Tourism Watch, a task force involving the tourism industry, governments and NGOs to campaign against this terrible scourge.

Governments started to join in. The ministry of tourism in Brazil launched a very effective poster campaign. The Australian government distributed thousands of brochures advertising the laws against child sex tourism as a deterrent.

In France, the government and travel associations adapted the syllabus for tourism schools to include information about child sex tourism. In France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands a luggage tag condemning child sex tourism has been made widely available. In Italy a similar high-profile campaign has gone forward with partners in government and the travel industry.

Tour operators in Europe and elsewhere in Europe are signing on to a code of conduct against child sex tourism, and Asian tour operators are receiving training in how to deal with the issue of child sex tourism when they are confronted with it. In the United States, the American Society of Travel Agents has signed on to the no-child-sex tourism campaign.

Among airlines, Air France has led the way by producing an in-flight video in conjunction with ECPAT that was shown on all long-haul fights. Lufthansa has also produced an in-flight video against child sex tourism. Now eleven European airlines (including Alitalia, Swiss Air, Finnair and Sabena) also show these in-flight videos.

Until now, no US airline has agreed to join the video campaign, in spite of appeals from NGOs, the President of Air France and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Prevention: In an important project, ECPAT is currently working with five local organizations to prevent young people from entering the commercial sex industry in Northern Thailand. The project is funded by Taksvarkkiry Dagsvereke of Finland, and the results are promising.

More and more communities in Northern Thailand are aware of the dangers. More children are aware of their rights and are starting to enforce them. No child followed by the partners as part of the Taksvarkki project has entered the sex trade, and the small number that have left their communities for work stay in contact with their relatives.

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