Waging war vs. child-sex tourism-A A +A
Saturday, August 17, 2013
TOURISM officials yesterday urged hotels, resorts and other establishments to make their own child protection policies to prevent child-sex tourism.
Creating policies against child-sex tourism will be one of the steps different sectors will take after today’s launching of the Child Wise Tourism Program, said Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 Director Rowena Montecillo.
About 2,000 participants, including officials of local government units in Cebu, are expected to attend the launching at the Plaza Independencia in Cebu City.
Started in 2001, the program aims to prevent child-sex tourism through the involvement of the community.
“The Child Wise Tourism Program is one way of encouraging establishments to come up with child protection policies,” said Director Maria Rica Bueno of DOT’s office of tourism standards and regulation.
“We cannot turn a blind eye on the social ills that come as our tourism expands. We have to protect the most vulnerable sector in society, the children and women,” Bueno said.
Representatives of various government agencies, travel agencies, and other stakeholders in the tourism industry attended a workshop organized by DOT yesterday at
the Cebu International Convention Center in Mandaue City.
Child protection laws and ways to prevent child-sex tourism were discussed during the workshop.
Jenneth Robles-Aquino, a representative of the Department of Social Welfare and Development 7, said workers in hotels and other accommodation facilities should be able to detect suspicious guests or activities and report them to the police.
“The establishments should show that they are not tolerating child-sex tourism,” she said in an interview.
Every year, the DOT launches the Child Wise Tourism Program in two to three key tourist destinations, said Bueno. Last April, the DOT launched the program in Bohol.
The program has been launched in Puerto Princesa, Puerto Galera and Boracay.
“After the launching, our next action will be to divide the sectors into groups. There will be separate focused group discussions where they will come up with a policy. We will start with the accommodation facilities,” Montecillo said in an interview.
Today’s launching activities will start with a motorcade at 7 a.m. from Cordova to Cebu City. The activities will include the ceremonial unveiling of the program and the signing of a covenant for the protection of children by representatives of various sectors.
Montecillo said more than 1,000 children will participate in the activities at the Plaza Independencia.
“We want to let the children know what the various agencies of the government and the private sector are doing to protect them,” she said.
DOT’s target is to attract 5.5 million tourists this year, Bueno said. In Central Visayas, the target is to attract three million tourists, said Montecillo. She said 70 to 75 percent of tourist arrivals in the region were in Cebu.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 17, 2013.