G Adventures announces industry-first guidelines for child welfare
New guidelines launched in partnership with ChildSafe and welcomed by UNICEF
Leading small-group adventure operator, G Adventures, and its non-profit partner, Planeterra, have joined forces with Friends-International’s ChildSafe Movement to raise awareness of child protection and welfare within the tourism industry, and directly with travellers.
The full new set of guidelines launched by ChildSafe, G Adventures and Planeterra, is called Child Welfare and the Travel Industry: Global Good Practice Guidelines. A wide range of contributors provided their expertise and insights including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), who welcomed the guidelines.
Beth Verhey, Senior Advisor, Children’s Rights and Business, UNICEF, says these guidelines provide an essential, practical resource for all tourism companies.
“Travel and tourism is globally one of the most significant sectors economically, and was highlighted in three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. To achieve the sustainability potential of the sector, a concerted effort by industry bodies and individual companies is needed to understand how children are affected – both positively and negatively – by their business operations and value chains,” says Verhey.
G Adventures has published a simplified, branded version of these guidelines, which are also being launched to the travel industry today, with a global consumer-facing campaign following in November. These Child Welfare Guidelines aim to educate the industry and consumers on how to responsibly interact with children when travelling, including taking pictures respectfully, not disrupting children’s education, and how to give gifts and donations in a manner that doesn’t promote begging.
As a leader in responsible travel, G Adventures is encouraging the global travel industry to adopt these Child Welfare Guidelines, which are the latest in G Adventures’ ‘suite’ of responsible travel guidelines, joining Animal Welfare and Responsible Travel with Indigenous People, which were launched in 2015 and 2017 respectively.
Jamie Sweeting, vice president of social enterprise and responsible travel at G Adventures, says the new guidelines are designed to encourage travel companies to do more, and to educate travellers, who often believe they are doing the right thing when interacting with children, to act responsibly.
“As a travel company, we wanted to make sure we were doing the best we could and these guidelines are helping us make appropriate changes internally. We have swept all our digital assets and owned channels to ensure all our media complies, and we’ve removed all school classroom visits from our itineraries. We’re next about to embark on an internal training program with all staff, with the goal of becoming ChildSafe Certified by the end of the year,” says Sweeting.
Founder and Executive Director of Friends-International, Sebastien Marot, says these guidelines are long overdue, and that as the travel industry has evolved to become more experiential, with more community-based tourism, there was a growing awareness of the need for, and the importance of, a framework to protect children.
“These guidelines provide that framework, and it’s my hope they will become the benchmark for ensuring effective child protection in the tourism industry, with travel companies, agents, travellers and tour guides all contributing to creating safe environments for children,” says Marot.