Guest Post – Willem Niemeijer, Founder and CEO of Khiri Travel
The travel and tourism industry accounts for 1 in 11 jobs globally. According to research commissioned by WTTC (Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2014), it is the top job creator after education and directly employs over 100 million people worldwide, and as many as 265 million people indirectly. It’s also a unique industry, where stakeholders are more often than not in direct personal contact. This people-oriented business is further enhanced by the power of social media. All stakeholders – public and private sector industry players and travellers alike – have tremendous possibilities to connect on all levels.
This opens a great opportunity for all these stakeholders to join hands and confront head on the issue of exploitation and abuse of children.
A roadmap has already been prepared by the groundbreaking work of NGO’s such as Friends-International, ChildSafe Network and World Vision. They have years of experience with the on-the-ground realities that children and their families face. They know how hard it is to break the vicious cycle of poverty that condemns children to work selling garlands at busy intersections, as souvenir sellers, or begging on the street. It’s lucrative and sadly often a necessary alternative to children going to school and having a carefree childhood.
As is often the case, the start lies in raising awareness. Training and information is key. At Khiri Travel, partnering with World Vision has been enlightening and inspiring. We added modules to periodic guide and office staff training sessions, co-created information leaflets that we distribute to guests and help spread the word at industry meetings and forums.
This is just a start in our commitment to Child Safe Tourism. We aim to grow support for social enterprise organisations that offer alternatives to vulnerable children, such as vocational training and promise of jobs in the travel and tourism sector. There are also NGO’s we invite you to help support, either directly, or through our charity arm, Khiri Reach (where 100% of your donations will be hand-delivered). In particular, companies doing business, as well as those travellers visiting in at-risk areas can do more than just being a bystander. Child protection is everyone’s business.