Two full-day workshops on the protection of children from sexual exploitation in travel and tourism were successfully held in Sri Lanka on October 2 and October 4 2017 in Negombo and Galle respectively. The two workshops were organized by the German Travel Association (DRV) in cooperation with ECPAT. Relevant country representatives of the ECPAT family, ECPAT Germany and ECPAT Sri Lanka (PEaCE) played a key role in facilitating and coordinating the workshops. A remarkable outcome of the two workshops was the active participation and enthusiasm of key stakeholders in the industry towards protecting children from their ends. A total of over 80 representatives from travel agencies, incoming agencies, hotels and child protection organizations of Sri Lanka participated in these workshops.
The German Ambassador in Colombo, Jörn Rohde, welcomed the participants at the inauguration of the first day and stressed on the responsibility of tourism stakeholders in protecting children and their rights.
Mr. Hiran Cooray, the Chairman of Jetwing Hotels & Travels Sri Lanka, agreed to sign The Code (“The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism”), one evidence to prove the practical success of the workshops. This was the second time a Sri Lankan tourism and travelling industry stakeholder agreed to sign the Code, after the Club Dolphin Hotel, Negombo. Addressing the participants, he proposed other industry stakeholders to follow his decision to maximize the protection of children in travel and tourism, which is an encouraging move indeed.
The two workshops were moderated by Mrs Antje Monshausesn from ECPAT Germany/tourism watch and Mr Andreas Mueseler from the German Travel Association (DRV) played a key role in inaugurating and coordinating the programmes. Dr. Dorothea Czarnecki, ECPAT Germany and Mr. Mohammed Mahuruf, Chairman – ECPAT Sri Lanka (PEaCE) conducted sessions on the nature of sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism and the ways in which it affects the Sri Lankan context. Further attention was given by Ms Sonali Gunasekere (Project Coordinator – National Partnership to End Violence Against Children) during her presentation towards child protection in Sri Lanka and the current needs to better protection. Child protection in practice/Handling of suspected cases of child abuse was covered by Dr. Dorothea Czarnecki, ECPAT Germany and Mrs Miriam Landhofer, DER Touristik Germany. The final presentation session on the good practices in the tourism sector to enhance child protection was conducted by Mrs Ruth Hopfer-Kubsch, Studiosus Reisen Munich, Mrs. Miriam Landhofer, DER Touristik Germany and Mrs. Hiran Cooray, Chairman – Jetwing Hotels & Travels.
The workshops were also enriched with active role play sessions and roundtable activities and also were supported by Studiosus, DER Touristik, Thomas Cook, Qatar Airways, Jetwing Blue, Amari Galle.