SECO hosts international expert meeting to protect world’s children from sex tourism

This month SECO will host an expert meeting together with The Code, bringing together government donors, local and international NGOs, and some of the world’s largest tourism companies in a united effort to protect children from sexual exploitation in tourism.

On 14-15 October Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) hosts an international expert meeting together with The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children in Travel and Tourism (The Code) in Bern.

The Code is an industry lead corporate social responsibility initiative which provides awareness, tools and support to tourism companies to help end child sexual exploitation in contexts of travel and tourism. Currently funded primarily by SECO, The Code has over 1,300 signatories in more than 60 countries.

The two day seminar brings together key governmental, non-governmental, and corporate stakeholders to review The Code’s development and set the direction for future strategy.

Participating in the workshops alongside The Code’s secretariat staff will be representatives from international NGOs such as ECPAT and UNICEF, major tourism corporations including Accor, Kuoni, Tui, and Thomas Cook, government donors including SECO and Germany’s GIZ, and staff of partnering NGOs who implement the essential work of The Code in many countries around the world, including ECPAT Switzerland.

I am thrilled that some of the greatest minds from governments, local and international NGOs, and the tourism industry will be coming together to help us strategise our united effort to protect children from sex tourism

– Andreas Astrup, General Manager of The Code

The Code is strengthening their local presence in high risk countries around the world, including both countries in the developing world that receive inbound sex tourists looking to exploit children and also nations in the global north from where many sex tourists originate.

SECO is currently funding a 3 year project to help The Code to increase efficiency and impact around the world. Hans-Peter Egler, Head of Trade Promotion at SECO, explains the importance of the initiative, “Protecting children from sexual exploitation in tourism is an important element in corporate social responsibility in tourism, particularly in developing countries.

During the workshop The Code will also be presented with Skål International’s 2013 Sustainable Development in Tourism Award for Education Programmes – Media. A spokesperson for Skål explains “[The Code] is an interactive tool that gives fantastic, instant feedback at all levels – personal, company and community. It is an outstanding industry-led project that is not for any commercial gain. It is simply the right thing to do.

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