Holidays are the best time of the year for many people. They enjoy the sun and beach, breath-taking landscapes and exciting new impressions. This means their trip should be carefree, both for themselves and for the local population. Unfortunately, tourism also has its dark side. More than 2 million children a year become victims of sexual violence and exploitation. In many cases, the tourism infrastructure is misused for these purposes by sexual offenders. Consequently, the travel industry has a responsibility to address the issue of child protection.
DER Touristik has introduced a very ambitious child protection policy, one that makes the company a pacesetter in the tourism industry. DER Touristik has been playing an active role in child protection since 2001, when the German Tourism Association (DRV) acted on behalf of all its members and initiated “The Code”, a document based on the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. ECPAT Deutschland e.V. – a working group for the protection of children from sexual exploitation – oversees the implementation of the code and supports DER Touristik as an expert partner.
In 2012, DER Touristik Hotels & Investments GmbH (DTH) defined a set of principles within its child protection policy. These principles are designed to protect the children of the holiday country and those of guests and to observe their rights within the tourism industry. The child protection policy is widely communicated at all destinations and is a key topic in the training concept used for employees at destination areas (hotel employees and travel guides). They are sensitised about the topic and learn what to do if they suspect that something is amiss. In 2017, the training concept was expanded to employees at headquarters locations, at destination agencies and for important partners.
Sören Hartmann, CEO of the DER Touristik Group, signed The Code at ITB Berlin tourism trade fair on 11 March 2016. With his signature, DER Touristik expressed its commitment to the Code and pledged to observe and implement the following aspects, most of which have already been introduced:
DER Touristik also vigorously carries out activities as part of its information and prevention concept. As part of this effort, travellers learn about the protection of children from sexual exploitation during holiday, tourism students are sensitised about the issue and DER Touristik plays an active role in the preparation of the programme for an annual destination workshop organised by the German Travel Association and ECPAT. The workshop is designed for hotels, agencies and tour operators at holiday resorts that have a high risk of sexual exploitation of children. It is conducted in cooperation with local organisations and authorities. In recent years, workshops have been held in the Dominican Republic, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Kenya. The most recent ones were held in Sri Lanka in 2017.
In the Travel and Tourism area, REWE Group has joined the fight against sexual exploitation of minors and violence against children. In cooperation with the non-government organisation ECPAT Deutschland e.V., DER Touristik and especially the business travel specialist DER Business Travel work to prevent children from being sexually exploited. In 2011, DER Business Travel became the first business travel provider in Germany to sign up to the Child Protection Code. The following activities were carried out in 2017:
During the reporting period, DER Touristik conducted ten seminars about child protection at five destinations. In addition, training was provided to the hosts of DER Touristik Hotels.
In 2017, DER Business Travel provided information about this subject within the scope of:
The subject of child protection was also added to the orientation plan for new headquarters employees. In recognition of these efforts, the business travel expert has been named a “top member” of the Child Protection Code since 2014. The wide range of activities in the area of business travel is honoured here.