New poll sheds light on dark side of tourism

Canadians troubled by child labour, child sexual exploitation in tourist destinations

MISSISSAUGA, Sept. 26, 2012 /CNW/ - On the eve of World Tourism Day, a new Ipsos Reid poll exposes Canadian attitudes about a tragic aspect of tourism: child labour and child sexual exploitation.

Commissioned by humanitarian agency World Vision, the poll reveals 77 per cent of vacationing Canadians are disturbed to see children working in the tourism industry. It also found that half would be willing to spend an average of 27 per cent more on their vacation if travel companies guaranteed they don't use child labour.

"Canadians take pride in our reputation as responsible travellers. We wear maple leafs on our backpacks and lapels, but it's time we started recognizing how we may be unintentionally fueling the problem of child exploitation," says Caroline Riseboro, vice-president of marketing and communications, World Vision Canada.

An estimated 115 million boys and girls are doing dirty, dangerous and degrading work around the world. While some tourism sector employment is relatively safe for children, many jobs can jeopardize education and put well-being at serious risk, especially when children are working alone or late at night.

"Brothels catering to tourists are well known, shameful examples of child exploitation in the tourism industry. But even so-called safe jobs, such as selling souvenirs on the street or doing dishes in a beach cafe, can take children out of school and bring them into risky contact with tourists who may try to exploit them," says Riseboro.

Other key findings from the Ipsos Reid Poll:

  • 82 per cent would be more likely to use a tour operator or hotel that donated
    a percentage of profits to a local child protection organization.
  • 73 per cent would choose a destination based on that country's commitment to
    protecting children in the tourism industry, even if it cost more money or took more time to get to.
  • 80 per cent said if they saw a child selling sex they would report it to a tip line for child exploitation.
  • The top three reasons cited as to why boys and girls are exploited in developing countries:
    1 ) their government doesn't do enough to protect them;
    2) they are so poor they have to work so their families can survive;
    3) Western countries demand the cheapest products, so companies have to find cheap labour.

World Vision's End Child Slavery campaign launched this spring is raising awareness about child labour exploitation and trafficking. The campaign offers ways to be more responsible travellers through child-safe tourism.

Canadians can:

  1. Take responsibility for their own "travel footprint" by researching hotels and travel companies to ensure they have policies or adhere to codes that protect boys and girls.
  2. Go to to report sexual exploitation of children by Canadians abroad.
  3. Deter any travel companions from engaging in behaviour that hurts or exploits children.
  4. Push the Canadian government to use our extra-territorial legislation swiftly and effectively to convict Canadians who abuse children overseas when the local country can't or won't.
  5. Give to local charities that work to end the issues causing boys and girls to be on the streets begging and selling, rather than giving directly to people who may not even profit from it.
  6. Sponsor a child. Poverty is the biggest driver of child labour. One of the best ways to prevent a child from being forced into a dirty, dangerous or degrading job is to help his/her family access things like clean water, healthy food, education, agricultural tools/training and livelihoods programs.

World Vision's work

World Vision is active in many countries, preventing sexual exploitation of boys and girls in tourism and restoring hope and health to survivors. For example, World Vision's Trauma Recovery Centre in Cambodia helps girls aged 9-17 recover from sexual exploitation and reintegrate into their communities. Also in Cambodia, World Vision runs a program called My Son to reduce sexual abuse of boys in the cities of Battambang and Phnom Penh.

Other recent initiatives:

  • Project Childhood is combatting sexual exploitation of children in tourism in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.  The project, funded by the Australian Agency for International Development, brings together World Vision, INTERPOL, and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime. World Vision's role is to prevent child sexual exploitation through public awareness campaigns, training and telephone hotlines.
  • Preventing Child Sex Tourism is raising awareness among families, communities and the informal tourism sector in Costa Rica about the consequences of child sexual exploitation in the country's most popular beach destinations. It also includes a Canadian campaign to deter potential sex offenders before travelling to Costa Rica. Funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), this project is led by the International Bureau for Children´s Rights (IBCR), in partnership with World Vision Canada and the Costa Rican NGO Fundación Paniamor.


High Resolution photos of World Vision's Trauma Recovery Centre in Cambodia and My Son project
Video of little girl selling souvenirs in sex district of Pattaya, Thailand (32 seconds)
Clip of Thai girl explaining her fear of foreigners (22 seconds)
Clip about poll results (16 seconds)
Clip about treatment of boys vs. girls in Cambodia (1 min)
Clip about tourist demand for virgins (15 seconds)
B-roll of sex tourism in Thailand (80 seconds)

* Click here to download the videos above in broadcast quality. 

World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. Visit our News Centre at

SOURCE: World Vision Canada

For further information:

or interviews, contact:

Tiffany Baggetta-tel. 416-305-9612,


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