ZURICH, BANGKOK & NEW YORK – The end of the year 2008 coincides with the celebration of the 10-year anniversary of The Code and the successful meetings in Rio during World Congress III against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents, where The Code achieved excellent visibility and prominence.

To date, 989 individual companies with headquarters in 34 different countries have signed the Code of Conduct, currently applying it all over the world. In 2009, they will attain the 1,000 signatories mark for sure. This is a tremendous success and shows that The Code is THE recognized prevention tool against child sex tourism. This is reflected in increased awareness of the problem on the part of the industry and the travelers, too. The Code’s achievements were also very recently acknowledged by the 2008 Ending Global Slavery Award which The Code won.

From an organizational development perspective, The Code has a strategy which was approved by the signatories and members, has a new application and signing procedures in place, and has a set of diversified criteria for every branch of the tourism industry. Furthermore, they have the energy to continue and to face the new challenges ahead.

The executive committee has developed a variety of actions with a strong focus on finding funds for the implementation of the new strategy. The situation today is that while having over 900 signatory members in 34 countries, The Code has only two full-time dedicated staff: the secretariat coordinator and the recently appointed project manager. Therefore, over the last year, numerous meetings have taken place to explore funding opportunities. Four applications were submitted to various donors towards the implementation of the strategy, with the initial aim of building up a headquarters and Europe office in Switzerland and an Asian-Pacific regional office, complementing the existing structure of the secretariat based in New York to become the Americas regional office.

The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism is an industry-driven responsible tourism initiative in collaboration with ECPAT, co-funded by UNICEF and supported by the UNWTO.