Aug 8, 2008, 9:24 AM
Tourism sector in any country is a significant contributor to that country’s wealth, providing not only revenue from tourism-related activities but also supporting many worthy causes.
However, the need to promote responsible tourism is equally paramount and it’s against this background that the Child Protection Alliance (CPA) recently held a two-day capacity building training for hoteliers, tourist securities, media practitioners and police officers on code of conduct of Gambia Tourism Board on child protection from sexual exploitation to child sex tourism.
The workshop, held at the Baobab Hotel Resort in Kololi, was funded by ECPAT Netherlands.
Speaking on the occasion, Njundu Drammeh, national coordinator of CPA, stated that each year more than one million children are exploited in the global sex trade; most often this constitutes child trafficking, child pornography and the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourist destinations.
He defined Child Sex Tourism (CST) as sexual exploitation of children by men or women who travel from one place to another and there engage in sexual acts with children under the age of eighteen years.
“Today the number of children victims of sex tourism continues to rise globally. Even though child sex tourism has existed for decades the practice has exploded in recent years due in large part to rapid globalization of trade and growth of tourism industry.”
For his part, Adama Bah from Travel Foundation Gambia said promoting responsible, ethical and sustainable tourism is paramount and needs to have all hands on deck to protect minors from all forms of exploitation.
Bah stated that the industry should not only focus on economic gains but should also take responsibilities in committing to ethical principles, create consumer awareness among others.
According to him, CPA and UNICEF are working tirelessly with Gambia Tourism Board (GBA) in combating and preventing child sex tourism, thus promoting responsible tourism in The Gambia.
Ousman Kebbeh of GTB said some of the ways and techniques of combating child sex is for government institutions, private sector, NGOs and stakeholders to work hand in glove to ensure that any perpetrators found wanting face the full force of the law.
Dawda Baldeh, assistant general manager of the Paradise Suites Hotel, said that some of the victims of child sex tourism, both boys and girls, often come from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.