BERLIN, -- The 32nd meeting of the UNWTO World Tourism Network on Child Protection focussed on the role of governments in advancing the fight against the exploitation of children in the tourism industry.

"Child protection is the responsibility of all communities, private sector, and academia � but governments have a leading role to play," said Carol Bellamy, Chair of the Network, who opened the meeting.

"There is a bright and black side to tourism; we need to recognise that the black side exists and address it without any shame. We need to show zero tolerance towards any form of child exploitation. We cannot allow the tourism infrastructure to be used for this purpose and should not hesitate to expose such situations," said Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General.

The meeting, which was attended by the Ministers of Tourism of Ghana and Sudan, was an opportunity to share the best practices from India (TMB), Kenya, Maldives, Myanmar, the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), the World Childhood Foundation, and the Regional Task Force for the Protection of Children in Travel and Tourism of the Americas (GARA), represented by Uruguay, which has been presiding over it since last year.

Cross-government co-ordination and commitment, as well as cross-sectoral co-operation were highlighted as key factors to advance child protection in tourism.

The World Tourism Network on Child Protection (formerly the Task Force for the Protection of Children in Tourism) is an open-ended network featuring the multi-stakeholder participation of a range of tourism stakeholders, from governments, international organisations and non-governmental organisations to tourism industry groups and media associations. Originally formed in 1997, its mandate since 2007 has been to prevent all forms of youth exploitation in the tourism sector, namely sexual exploitation, child labour and child trafficking.

The network holds its meetings annually at the world's foremost travel and tourism fairs, serving as a platform for key actors to exchange their experiences and best practices, present awareness-raising materials and capacity building tools, and promote the adoption of professional codes of conduct or other responsible practices in line with the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.

Source: Emirate News Agency