Press Release – Belize Tourism Industry Association – August 8th, 2006 – The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) and ECPAT-USA launched the Protect Children in Tourism Project (PCT) in Belize City, Belize, to promote the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism. The event was held in the Cahal Pech Room at the Radisson Fort George Hotel and Marina, on Thursday, August 3rd, 2006 at 10:00 a.m.
Mrs. Lucy Fleming, President of the BTIA, was pleased to lead the tourism private sector in this proactive and most important initiative. Belize is recognized internationally for sustainable and responsible tourism practices. Of all its national treasures and assets, there is none more valuable than its children. Mrs. Fleming applauded the BTIA sectors, destinations and individual members for their commitment in publicly embracing a matter which even today, is too often a taboo subject. Acknowledging that many tourism service providers do have in-house measures to protect children and adolescent, the BTIA collectively and publicly made the statement to do its part to prevent the commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents in the travel and tourism industry.
Keynote speaker representing the Prime Minister of Belize at the event was the Chairperson of the Belize Special Task Force on Trafficking in Persons, Ms. Anita Zetina. Other speakers included Cindy Gregg, Consul at the US Embassy in Belize, PCT Project Director, Amaya Renobales, and present to witness the signing was Hon. Godfrey Smith, Minister of Tourism, who emphasized the importance of the upcoming PCT training programs to sensitize the front line personnel in the tourism industry.
More than twenty hotels, tour operators and other travel industry representatives signed the Code of Conduct at this kickoff event including the Belize Tourism Industry Association, which is the umbrella organization representing more than 500 tourism and tourism related businesses.
The Code of Conduct requires tourism service providers to implement six criteria as follows: an ethical policy against child exploitation, training of personnel in the country of origin, applying a clause in contracts with suppliers, providing both travelers and “key persons” at the destination with information and annual reporting. More than 270 companies worldwide have signed the Code.
“Belize may not have this problem at this time, but certainly, the tremendous growth in the industry can provide the conditions for it; BTIA is being proactive in sensitizing the tourism service providers with the help of ECPAT,” said Andrew Godoy, BTIA’s Executive Director.
For more information about Protect Children in Tourism Project (PCT), please contact the BTIA at telephone 227-5717/1144, E-Mail: email@example.com or visit our website at www.btia.org.