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Code of Conduct - Costa Rica Protecting children and adolescents against sexual exploitation in the travel industry

The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism is an initiative of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) joining the tourism private sector and the children?s rights non-governmental organization ECPAT, aiming to prevent sexual exploitation of children at tourism destinations.

In Costa Rica, The code of conduct is a project of the tourist industry that is supported by The Paniamor Foundation together with the Costa Rican Tour Operators Association (ACOT), The Costa Rican Professionals in Tourism Association (ACOPROT) and World Vision Costa Rica funded by Fundecooperación.

Last March, Costa Rican Trails signed The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children and Adolescents from Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Tourism, with the firm commitment to prevent sexual exploitation of children and adolescents in all our destinations within the country.

About Sexual Tourism

The child sex tourism is the sexual exploitation of a child by a person or persons who engages in sexual activities with the child while traveling away from their own country or region. This usually involves some form of payment ?either cash or items such as food, clothing or trinkets.

The Problem

In general terms, the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) has been recognized as a global phenomenon that impacts millions of children each year in countries on every continent. This exploitation occurs mainly in South-East Asia, Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe. The Western world accounts for the greatest demand for child sex.

In Costa Rica, there is a great concern, so the tourist industry has taken an energetic position of zero tolerance in order to protect children and adolescents from commercial sexual exploitation. In this manner, they have united to promote the incorporation of the Code of Conduct in tourist companies to confront this problem.

Ethical Policy

Costa Rican Trails has committed itself to implement the following measures:

1. To implement the corporate ethical policy against commercial sexual exploitation of children.
2. To train our personnel about the directions and policies of the company or business concerning the protection of minors from commercial sexual exploitation and act as preventive agents in this problematic area.
3. To introduce clauses in contracts with suppliers, stating a common repudiation of sexual exploitation of children and Adolescents.
4. To provide information to travelers through catalogues, brochures, websites, etc.
5. To provide information to local "key persons" at destinations.
6. To report annually about our actions regarding this project.

The Code of Conduct initiative is clearly framed in a sustainable and responsible tourism within our company, which can contribute to the improvement of the quality of life in our communities and to the preservation of their human resources and environment.

Our actions to join the fight against the commercial sexual exploitation of children:

1. Costa Rican Trails shall only use hotels that have a policy that clearly states the hotel’s position with regards to the trade in child sex. The hotel shall also make this understood among its staff and provide them with knowledge on how to handle problems should they arise.
2. All our suppliers shall provide information to its personnel and guests regarding national laws and the penalties imposed for the sexual abuse of children.
3. The supplier’s staff security is trained to handle guests or personnel who sexually abuse a child.
4. Prevent children from entering the hotels via bars, restaurants, lobby or reception.
6. Work actively. As a precautionary measure, build up links with social authorities and other organizations that may be involved with an encroachment.
7. All our personnel, who observe anything that suggests that the commercial sexual exploitation of children may be taking place, must report immediately to the police or some other authority with the right to intervene. In cases of reported sexual abuse of children in hotels, Costa Rican Trails will assist the hotel in follow-up measures.
8. Detailed instructions regarding how control of the Code will be carried out and how it is being included in travel destination manuals.

For additional information, please contact:

Fundación Paniamor

Phone: (+506) 234-2993

Fax: (+506) 234-2956

Address: Avenida Central, calles 29 y 33, San José, Costa Rica

P.O.Box: 376-2150, Moravia, Costa Rica

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