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Laos vows to prevent child sex tourism

The Lao National Tourism Administration (LNTA) has pledged to protect children from sexual abuse by travellers and tourists.

Representatives from many branches of the tourist sector gathered to learn about effective methods to recognise and report suspicious behaviour at the Child Wise Tourism Training workshop held yesterday in Vientiane .

Speaking at the workshop, LNTA Vice Chairman Soukaseum Bodhisane said it was mainly those working in the tourism sector who were most likely to observe this abhorrent behaviour on the part of some tourists.

“The number of tourists flocking into Asia each year has grown into millions,” Mr Soukaseum said.

“While most travellers are responsible and respectful, there is a small minority who travel solely to exploit children in places where they think they can get away with it,” he said. “This is a crisis for the tourism industry.”

The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a global problem, causing unimaginable harm to millions of children every year. Child sex offenders visit destinations where they think they can sexually abuse children without being identified, according to a press release from Child Wise Australia.

The half-day workshop was organised by the LNTA with the support of Child Wise and the Australian government. More than 50 participants attended, including hotel staff, taxi drivers, tour guides and operators, and tourist police.

The workshop helped to highlight the ongoing commitment of Laos to ensuring that the rights of its children are protected from all forms of abuse, the press release said.

Laos is actively committed to ending child sex tourism, which is a serious crime punishable by law. Local and international law enforcement agencies have teamed together to ensure stronger policing and prevention.

The education of the tourism sector is a powerful means to protect children. Staff have direct contact with tourists on a daily basis, and they are well placed to detect and report situations where children may be at risk.

Responsible tourism is everyone's responsibility. Local citizens and responsible tourists can be active in child protection. If you observe a situation where you believe a child may be at risk, please call the hotline number anytime on 021-251128.

The campaign against child sex tourism in Laos started in 2005 to protect children from sexual abuse by travellers both foreign and local, with the assistance of Child Wise and the Australian government.

By vientiane times
Photo: flickr

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