Bangkok, Thailand – 7 November 2012
Tourists to and within the Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam want to be better educated about Child Safe Tourism according to a report issued by Project Childhood – Prevention Pillar, an Australian Aid initiative implemented by World Vision.
The report ‘Child Safe Tourism: The Tourist Perspective’ released today to coincide with the observance of World Responsible Tourism Day, presents the results of an online travellers’ survey which asked recent visitors to Southeast Asia to share their experiences of interactions with children and perceptions of Child Safe Tourism.
Over half (57.1%) of more than 300 self-selected survey participants who represented 37 countries indicated that they had witnessed situations they perceived as involving the exploitation or abuse of children while travelling in the region. And, 84.8% of survey participants stated that they would like to know more about how to protect children and prevent exploitation while travelling.
“While the exponential growth of tourism in Southeast Asia in the past decade has benefitted the economy of the region significantly, it’s also created a pull factor that has driven children and their families to give up traditional livelihoods in search of an income in tourism destinations where they become particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse,” said Aarti Kapoor, Program Manager of Project Childhood – Prevention Pillar for World Vision.
Though many tourists are aware of situations exploiting children in the destinations they visit, the survey results identify that most feel they don’t know what steps to take that will make a difference in keeping children safe. Many tourists expressed a high level of concern for vulnerable children in their travel experiences and confirmed that whether a business had a child safe tourism policy would positively impact their consumer choices while on holiday.
According to the study, tourists want and need more information about appropriate child safe behaviours and a deeper understanding of what child safe tourism is. Other key findings reveal that tourists are generally concerned about the well-being of children in the region and are significantly affected by the encounters – both positive and negative – they have with children in the countries where they visit.
In partnership with National Tourism Organisations and the tourism sector, Project Childhood – Prevention Pillar is working to build a child safe environment through a ‘Child Safe Tourism’ campaign for tourists and travellers, as well as through the provision of training for the sector to adopt child safe business practices. Findings from this report are informing the development of these programs.
“Children working in tourism destinations can be particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse,” said Afrooz Kaviani Johnson, Technical Director. “We hope that tourism stakeholders will use this information to better understand how their customers perceive vulnerable children in tourism destinations and to understand the importance of and implementing child safe business practices.”