As part of an initiative supported by TUI Care Foundation, an international forum of experts, travel and tourism industry, governments and NGOs held to discuss the protection of children, wrapped up today in Cancún, Mexico.
The protection of children in popular tourism destinations is not just a job of governments, various tourism stakeholders are needed in preventing and signaling exploitation of children. For that reason, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and TUI Care Foundation support the project "Together for the Protection of Children in Travel and Tourism” in Cancún, Mexico and Phuket, Thailand, which is implemented by ECPAT Mexico and ECPAT International.
The project works to engage, collaborate and strengthen partnerships between the private sector, local government, law enforcement and civil society. Tourism professionals are trained in developing and implementing strategies and policies on child protection. Furthermore, awareness for child protection is created amongst holidaymakers.
The TUI Junior Academy model
The project is part of the TUI Care Foundation's TUI Junior Academy programme, aiming to get the next generation actively involved in important sustainability issues, ranging from creating Young Ambassadors for a clean environment to Young Advocates for child rights. In the project, children are empowered to speak out and act as agents of change. “Children are the most vulnerable group to face exploitation of all kinds. All parts of society must join forces to protect children at risk of exploitation: government and industry as well as NGOs, foundations and other actors of civil society. Moreover, children themselves, especially girls, should be empowered and given the opportunity to reach their full potential”, said Lidewij Helmich, representative of TUI Care Foundation.
Commitment of state and municipal government
The forum has successfully achieved an express commitment of the Mexican local and state governments to the protection of children. The governor of the State of Quintana Roo, Carlos Manuel Joaquin González, signed a collaboration agreement that will see ECPAT train more children in schools to protect themselves and raise awareness about the issue, while the Municipality of Benito Juarez presented a renewed Pact for Children.
TUI Mexico and RIU hotels in Cancun join The Code
TUI Mexico and 11 RIU hotels elevated their commitment to protecting children by signing up to The Code, a responsible tourism initiative with a mission to provide awareness, tools and support to the tourism industry. Staff of TUI Mexico and RIU hotels have recently been trained to recognize and report any signs.