August 26, 2009
Ecuador has taken the lead in the prevention of sexual and commercial exploitation of children and adolescents through tourism and travel. As Coordinator of the Action Group for the Americas (GAR, for its initials in Spanish), under the Presidency of Ecuador’s Minister of Tourism, Mrs. Veronica Sion de Josse, the Group ratified the Regional Action Plan developed during the Ministerial Summit held in Quito last July.
This Group or Task Force was created to design, monitor and coordinate regional actions, legislation, practices and information to prevent the exploitation of minors through the tourism activities. The Group’s member countries are: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela. A complete calendar of special training for key actors and awareness events is being planned.
During the Quito Summit, the Action Plan was revised and upgraded to formal policies and strategies which are being applied immediately. Ecuadorian Minister Mrs. Sion de Josse said that “this is a major step to guarantee that tourism is and should be a valid and clean instrument for development and social inclusion which protects the children and most vulnerable population from potential risks resulting from the travel activities”.
As a very important tool to support this effort, a Special Web Page, prepared by the Regional Group of Action, was presented. The portal has Spanish and English versions and provides a space and formal Forum for communication among all countries, actors and parties involved and concerned; to exchange and constantly update relevant information and to monitor the actions and new developments surrounding this topic. The page is supplied with the information provided by the Group’s member countries and will connect, through links, with public or private national and international organizations related with this issue.
With just a click on http://www.grupodeaccionregional.org, the navigator can find ample information about the prevention of sexual exploitation of children and adolescents; briefings and summaries of workshops and related events, publications and audiovisual materials; news and surveys.
In this way, Ecuador demonstrates its vocation to make use of its remarkably rich and varied, natural and cultural tourism resources in a truly responsible and sustainable way, respecting and protecting people’s dignity and sponsoring good practices all along the tourism chain of services and activities.