Article

Protect children in the tourism sector

If tourists and travellers witness possible signs of child sexual exploitation, who do they turn to? ECPAT found they're most likely to tell those working in tourism. This means as a waiter/waitress, tour guide or hotel manager you have a crucial role to play in protecting children near you.

Reports to tourist sector staff are still only made in 10% of cases. The majority of incidents are going unreported and children remain vulnerable to abuse.

What can you do to encourage your customers and guests to report suspicious things they see to you? Learn the key things preventing tourists and travellers from making a report so you can raise awareness and help keep children safe!

What should be reported?

ECPAT found that tourists and travellers don't make a report because they:

  • Don't know what to report
  • Are scared of misinterpreting the situation due to cultural differences
  • Worry about interfering in someone’s personal life

To overcome these obstacles, tell people staying in your hotel or eating in your restaurant what kinds of things should be reported. Help them to recognise suspicious situations, and know what they should do if they’re unsure. It’s always better to report something innocent, than stay quiet when a child is in danger.

Make sure this information is visible and accessible, and draw their attention to it when they arrive.

Not sure what should be reported yourself? Follow this e-learning here.

How can a report be made?

Other obstacles to reporting relate to the reporting process:

  • Not knowing how to make a report
  • Being unsure of how they will be involved after they make a report
  • Feeling scared of getting involved in criminal activities

If someone tells you about a suspicious situation they’ve seen, let them know you’re there to support them. Ask whether they’d prefer to report the incident to a hotline online, or to local law enforcement, and then show them how to do it.
If they’re worried what their role is after they report then tell them what’s required. Reassure them their involvement is minimal. They should know that they can always report anonymously.

Not sure about the reporting process? Find out more on your local hotline's website here.

What is the impact of making a report?

Tourists and travellers also aren't always aware of the impact and importance of making a report. This concerns many things:

  • Feeling a lack of trust that the police will act on the report
  • Not expecting to witness child sexual exploitation and not wanting to be confronted with this during vacation
  • Being in a lazy holiday mode, and not interested
  • Fear of getting the child into trouble

To overcome these obstacles for reporting, make the impact of reporting clear. Share success stories so they know reports are taken seriously; that children can be protected and offenders can be stopped because they’ve made a report.

Their report alone will not lead to an immediate arrest, so they don’t have to fear getting the child in trouble, but just a little information could be crucial in police investigations.

Need an example success story? Find one here.

Protect children in the tourism sector
- by INHOPE