South American ministers of Tourism, gathered Wednesday, October 26, at the World Forum of Tourism for Peace and Sustainable Development, decided to embark upon a joint campaign to prevent and combat the sexual and commercial exploitation of children and adolescents.
The campaign is scheduled to begin in December. And, according to the Brazilian minister of Tourism, Walfrido dos Mares Guia, it will be conducted in such a way that every tourist, domestic and foreign, will perceive that the countries are on their guard, ready for prevention, and with increasingly rigorous laws to punish those who wish to abuse children and adolescents," he emphasized.
According to the Minister, it was an historical meeting, since it was the first time that ministers of Tourism from around the continent got together to discuss two basic questions: the integration of air travel between South American countries and the prevention of sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.
According to a recent survey by the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), 934 Brazilian cities were identified as hotbeds of sexual exploitation of children and adolescents for sexual ends, associated mainly with tourism, cargo transportation, and gasoline stations.
Referring to the study, the Minister commented that the problem is global in scope and that, for this reason, the country should not be ashamed. "What we have to do is confront it," he declared.
Mares Guia explained that the campaign will encompass the entire productive chain of tourism, including hotels, restaurants, firms that receive and those that send tourists, the transportation sector, and guides.
The goal is for everyone to act as "soldiers for the protection of children," regardless of whether or not they occupy positions of authority, he said.
The Brazilian model for the campaign was presented to the South American ministers during the World Tourism Forum. It represents an organizational strategy for the tourism sector to adapt its approach to incorporate the campaign for the prevention of exploitation of children and adolescents.