New industry guidelines support child protection and welfare in tourism

The new Child Welfare Guidelines launched by G Adventures, Planeterra, and ChildSafe are a useful sustainability tool for tourism businesses

These days, more and more travelers are seeking authentic and transformative experiences that bring them face-to-face with local communities and immerse them in the local culture.  However, as this desire for community-based experiences and social impact travel grows, so do the risks for children.

While some of the child welfare issues in tourism may seem obvious, others are lesser-known. For example, did you know that buying souvenirs from a child street-vendor or volunteering in an orphanage can be harmful? The risks are real and the effects can be long lasting. Even seemingly harmless activities can cause severe emotional trauma, foster dependency and helplessness, lead to children being separated from their families, or prevent them from gaining an education.

To raise awareness of child welfare issues within tourism and support the industry in protecting children from exploitation, a new set of child welfare guidelines were created. These guidelines, called the Child Welfare and the Travel Industry: Global Good Practice Guidelines, were developed by leading small-group adventure operator, G Adventures, and its non-profit partner, Planeterra, in partnership with Friends-International’s ChildSafe Movement. A wide range of contributors provided their expertise and insights including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), who welcomed the guidelines.

The guidelines are a valuable new tool that can be used by any travel company to improve their sustainability. They outline key actions that businesses should take to ensure responsible interactions and minimize harm to children when traveling. Some of the issues addressed by the guidelines include:

  • Preventing sexual exploitation and abuse of children in tourism
  • How to react to children in impoverished communities and give gifts/donations in a manner that doesn’t promote begging
  • Taking and distributing pictures of children in a respectful manner
  • Not disrupting children’s education
  • Avoiding voluntourism experiences that fuel child trafficking or negatively impact child development
  • Ensuring the safety of children traveling as clients
  • Having fair wages and working conditions for employees to adequately care for their children

If your company is interested in adopting these guidelines, contact [email protected] to view the full set of guidelines. A simplified version of the Child Welfare Guidelines can be downloaded here.

Header Photo Courtesy of G Adventures

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