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05.11.15 News

Call for travel firms to tackle child exploitation

Chloe Cann

TRAVEL BUSINESSESmust shoulder more responsibility for their supply chains if vulnerable minors are to be protected from exploitation, a panel on “child protection” concluded. Part of WTM’s Responsible Tourism

2015 programme, the panel explored how awareness around the issues must be created and action must be taken. At an executive level, Francis West,

Unicef UK’s head of private sector policy and advocacy, said businesses needed to lobby governments. “A lot of these problems need to be

addressed by states and the power of businesses to advocate towards the government is huge,” West said.


New itineraries revealed for next year’s Brand USA MegaFam

and Oregon; Alaska; and Hawaii. That leaves only a handful of states

that have not yet been included in a MegaFam itinerary. Gerry Boyle, travel trade director for Brand USA in the UK, said: “We want to be the first market that achieves all 50 states.” The 2016 MegaFam will focus on the

US’s great outdoors and urban outdoors and each itinerary will visit a national park as next year marks the centennial of the US National Park Service. Caroline Beteta, president and chief

executive of finale host Visit California said: “With a fourth gateway to the state opening with British Airway’s new route into San Jose, 2016 is the perfect year to host the MegaFam finale. We look forward to welcoming top selling agents from the UK and Ireland to showcase some of the incredible experiences that our diverse state has to offer.” To further their chances of gaining a

One of this year’s MegaFam groups Katherine Lawrey

HAWAII AND Alaska are among the highlights confirmed for next year’s Brand USA MegaFam for travel agents from UK and Ireland. The finale will be held in California, with the host city yet to be confirmed, but outbound flights have been booked out of Los Angeles. In partnership with American Airlines

and British Airways, there will be seven itineraries, visiting a total of 18 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, which have not previously been visited in the previous three years that the UK and Ireland MegaFam has been running. The new itineraries are Pennsylvania,

West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware and Maryland; Florida, Georgia and South Carolina; Colorado and New Mexico; Nevada, Utah and Arizona; Washington

place on the MegaFam, travel sellers need to register their US bookings with British Airways and American Airlines, and also earn a qualifying number of badges on the USA Discovery Program. New badges are uploaded to the UK

site first, along with other English- speaking markets. In recent weeks, badges dedicated to Philadelphia, Lake Tahoe and Kentucky have been added. The UK and Ireland site has now

registered in excess of 4,500 users, with more than 4,650 badges having been passed in total since the launch of the programme in 2013.


A way ahead for legacy carriers

Patrick Whyte

LEGACY AIRLINES can compete with so-called long-haul low-cost rivals by focusing on the product they offer. Speaking on an airline industry panel

Nat Pieper, senior vice-president Europe, Middle East and Africa, at Delta Air Lines, said full-service carriers had to focus on what they do best. “We have a product that stacks up

very well against long-haul low-cost,” he said. “It gives us a lot of different ways to resonate with customers. We will never have the lowest costs in the industry, we know that. If you’re not the lowest cost, you need to have products that resonate with passengers.” Helgi Mar Bjorgvinsson, senior

vice-president marketing and sales at Icelandair, said the airline had been successful by being transparent with consumers. “It is the price and the quality of service that matters,” he said.

05.11.2015 07 West used the example of clothing

brand H&M, which lobbied the Cambodian government to implement a fair “living wage” for textile workers. Within the travel industry he praised

the likes of Kuoni, which has integrated a UN-backed framework into its supply chains in India and Kenya, and Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ foundation (Starwood Foundation), which is implementing a similar structure in Latin America. While West conceded that

“significant” efforts had been made to shine the light on child exploitation, he insisted more could be done. He added: “While travel and tourism

is not the cause of child sex exploitation, it can contribute to the problem and the solution.”

Part of the root cause, West said, was

due to working conditions: “Tourism is a fantastic jobs creator but often doesn’t constitute living wage.” He said that exploitation often occurs because there is inadequate provision for local employees who have families. “[Tourism] is notorious for hours

worked both front and back of house,” he said. “[There needs to be] a more flexible approach to working hours for young mums, as well as adequate daycare and after-school activities [so that children are not left vulnerable].” Another aspect of the sector set to

come under scrutiny is volunteer tourism. “We need to stop talking about good and bad orphanages – both are the problem,” said Rebecca Smith, Save the Children’s

adviser for children without appropriate care. “Putting up orphanages is a way to create orphans and it is fuelled by well- intentioned people who want to help.” Both Smith and West referenced the

lack of background checks and training, as well as the fleeting stays of volunteers, as part of the reason why volunteer tourism can have such a negative impact on local communities. It’s up to the trade to create

awareness among consumers, Smith added. “We really need to engage with the tourism sector. We want people to be educated about the choices they are making and to promote best practice.” Frontline staff can help by promoting

hotels, restaurants and other businesses which are certified “Child Safe”, said Emmanuelle Werner, Europe coordinator for Friends International. “The tourism industry can be child

protective,” she said. “[We need to ensure people are] selling products that are not harming children, especially slum and orphanage visits. The message is let’s work together.”

Full-service carrier Delta Air Lines

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