Why responsible tourists should visit Honduras, El Salvador, Dominican Republic and Guatemala

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Responsible tourists should look to travel to and support Honduras, El Salvador, Dominican Republic and Guatemala through tourism. Responsible tourists should check carefully when supporting other Caribbean and Latin American Countries. This message becomes timely with the start of the WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Summit) about to start in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Except for Honduras, El Salvador, Dominican Republic and Guatemala, other Latin American and Caribbean countries are struggling to make progress against child marriage compared with countries in South Asia, according to a UNICEF report.

While other parts of the world have reduced the incidence of child marriage, “this has not been the case in our region, where one out of four women are being married before 18 years old,” says local UNICEF head Maria Cristina Perceval.

Latin America and the Caribbean has become the only region in the world where child marriages have not decreased significantly over the past decade, according to a recent report by the U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF).

“We are observing a real progress in other parts of the world to protect girls from child marriage,” stated in Panama City Maria Cristina Perceval, chief of Unicef for Latin America and the Caribbean. “However, this has not been the case in our region, where one out of four women are being married before 18 years old.”

As a result, these girls do not benefit from the same life opportunities in the medium and long term, with a higher risk of sexual violence, early pregnancies, dropping off school, in addition with the social exclusion from their peers, added Perceval.

Only four countries in the region have banned child marriage, with Honduras, El Salvador, Dominican Republic and Guatemala.

In February, another Unicef report warned that there had been insufficient progress in reducing high teenage pregnancy rates in Latin America and the Caribbean: although overall teenage pregnancy rates “dropped slightly” over the past three decades, the region has the second-highest rate globally.

The total number of girls married in childhood stands at 12 million per year and without public policies properly addressing the issue, more than 150 million additional girls will marry before their 18th birthday by 2030, found the report.

Globally, about one in six adolescent girls (aged 15 to 19) are currently married or in a union. West and Central Africa has the highest proportion of married adolescents (27 percent), followed by Eastern and Southern Africa (20 percent) and the Middle East and North Africa (13 percent). Latin America ranks fourth with 11 percent of the total of adolescent girls.

According to UNICEF, child marriages and early unions in the region are associated with the high rate of teenage pregnancies, the second in the world, and the risk of sexual violence, in addition to gender inequality.

Factors to which join many others such as poverty, social norms, gender roles and relationships, beliefs and gaps in national legislation.

‘In the region, the equality of girls is limited by the impact of early motherhood, violence and limited life opportunities. We cannot keep our eyes closed to a lost potential and forgotten rights ‘, hence the urgent call to put an end to these practices said Perceval.

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.