Above all, protect the children

BERLIN (eTN) – Messe Berlin, the organizer of ITB Berlin, has said “children represent our future.” For this, Messe Berlin is heralding its campaign “for the protection of children’s rights” at this year’s edition of ITB Berlin.

Messe Berlin has said ITB Berlin is campaigning to protect children against sexual exploitation in tourism by providing information on protection measures available to exhibitors and visitors. “ITB Berlin is campaigning for their rights and will sign a code of conduct pledging to protect children against sexual exploitation in tourism (Child Protection Code).”

Dr. Martin Buck, director of the Competence Center Travel and Logistics, Messe Berlin, said: “ITB Berlin is very pleased to be undertaking concrete efforts to protect children’s rights as with immediate effect. The world’s largest tourism trade show sees it as an obligation and as part of its corporate social responsibility to take an active stand on this issue.“

According to the organizer of the world’s largest travel exhibition, a “code of conduct” is to be signed on Friday, March 11, 2011, at ITB Berlin. Dr. Buck is to sign the document in the ICC, Saal 6, at 11am.

Explaining the need for the Child Protection Code, Dr. Buck said: “This is mainly about our responsibility towards society, which we are aware of and accept. We wish to communicate this message throughout the industry, for as the leading travel trade show we also consider ourselves to be a leading voice. We would like our efforts to contribute towards ending the exploitation of children.”

Messe Berlin said the signatories of the Child Protection Code pledge to put the following measures into practice: to introduce a corporate philosophy opposed to the commercial sexual exploitation of children; to make workers sensitive to this issue and to instruct them accordingly; to incorporate provisions in agreements with service providers expressly rejecting the sexual exploitation of children; to provide customers with information on the sexual exploitation of children and on implemented measures; to cooperate with travel destinations and to deliver an annual report to ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking of Children) on the measures which have been put into practice.

In 1998, the international organization for the protection of children, ECPAT, co-authored the Child Protection Code in Sweden, together with Scandinavian tour operators and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTWO).

According to Messe Berlin, more than 947 tour operators, tourism organizations and their corresponding umbrella organizations, as well as hotel chains in 37 countries have signed this document to date. “Queen Silvia of Sweden has also given her support to this code of conduct for the protection of children. Members of ITB Berlin have drawn up a joint action plan to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Child Protection Code, which contains short and long-term measures. The focus is on activities at ITB Berlin which will inform its exhibitors and visitors and which will call upon them to protect children’s rights.”

TheCode, a registered organization, was co-founded by ECPAT, UNICEF and UNWTO and is based in New York. TheCode has introduced clear guidelines and reporting procedures to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Child Protection Code. National ECPAT organizations support and closely monitor implementation of the Child Protection Code by the tourism companies who have signed the agreement.
ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking) is part of an international network based in Bangkok, Thailand, which has 84 affiliated national organizations. The aim of this international organization for the protection of children’s rights is to combat child pornography, child prostitution and child trafficking and to heighten public awareness of children’s rights everywhere in the world.

ECPAT’s aim is to ensure children’s rights are respected and observed, as laid down in the UN Children’s Rights Convention and its additional protocols. 
ECPAT Germany is a strong alliance that opposes the sexual exploitation of children. 
In 2002, 29 organizations, aid schemes and information centres combined to form ECPAT Germany, which is making every effort to ensure that children can grow up free from the risk of sexual exploitation.

A working group which meets regularly and comprises DRV, BTW, Rewe Touristik, TUI, Studiosus, Thomas Cook, the Police Crime Prevention Group of the Federal States and of the German government, Tourism Watch, ECPAT, and ITB Berlin, monitors compliance with the provisions of the Child Protection Code.

Information on ITB Corporate Social Responsibility is available at http://www.itb-berlin.de/